O2, Three & Vodafone Could Launch 4G In JuneDale Wright
After all the fuss about EE’s pricing and tariffs, it looks like we can finally report some good news about 4G/ LTE. Ofcom have brought forward the auction for 4G space, meaning that other networks will be able to offer 4G connectivity much sooner than we all expected.
If the auction runs to schedule, we could now see licenses being issued as early as next March. Once the auction is decided, operators will be able to upgrade their equipment ready for launch. That would mean that we see 4G being opened up to more networks in June, which is a good few months earlier than anyone expected.
The UK has been criticised for not providing 4G sooner, and for being seen to give EE a monopoly. Ofcom had to wait until the digital switchover was complete, and even now, some Freeview channels will need to be moved to accommodate the new frequencies. That still hasn’t happened. Many companies, including the US, already enjoy blazing fast mobile broadband speeds and better connections via 4G smartphones and tablets, but in the UK, we only have one network who can provide those speeds at the moment.
The last auction that took place was for 3G spectrum back in 2000, and this raised £22.5 billion. It’s expected that 4G will raise a fraction of that – between £1.3 billion and £4 billion. Networks are being invited to place their bids for two 4G frequencies before December 11th, which is a provisional deadline, but we’ll know more at the end of November.
The 800Mhz and 2.6Ghz bands will allow Three, Telefonica (O2) and Vodafone to compete with EE and provide 4G services to users. In the meantime, they’ll each need to submit a £100,000 deposit to secure their place in the 4G bidding. It’s expected that EE will have to bid again, and we may also see some smaller networks join in the auction too.
It’s good news for the networks, and hopefully a price war will bring the cost of 4G down over the next 12 months.