Ofcom 'politically motivated' to allow spectrum re-use for Everything Everywhere 4G


Ofcom has been pressured by Whitehall to allow Everything Everywhere to re-use parts of its 1800MHz spectrum for providing a 4G high-speed network in the UK this year.

"The decision by Ofcom will provide Everything Everywhere with an unfair advantage over O2, Three and Vodafone and is politically motivated," a mobile industry insider has told IT Pro.

"Everything Everywhere made a very attractive proposal to politicians, who are very keen on getting LTE to the market this year. Ofcom faced significant pressure from Whitehall and had no choice but to allow the network to re-use its spectrum, despite the clear unfair advantage it gains over competitors."

The decision by Ofcom will provide Everything Everywhere with an unfair advantage over O2, Three and Vodafone and is politically motivated.

Vodafone is set to lead the charge against the Ofcom ruling. The network told IT Pro it is very concerned Everything Everywhere will start using 4G and then try to delay the auction for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrums, due to take place later this year.

"Everything Everywhere will be the only network in the UK that is able to provide 4G for the foreseeable future," said a company spokesperson.

"Our main concern is that once Everything Everywhere starts offering 4G service, it will use some kind of legal technicality to delay the spectrum auction. Other networks including ourselves will then experience significant delays to delivering 4G."

They added: "Vodafone has a fifth of the 1800MHz spectrum so we don't have enough to re-use for the purposes of 4G. You need at least 10MHz of spectrum at 1800MHz and we have 5.8MHz. Everything Everywhere will probably be using around 20MHz to deliver 4G."

Matthew Howett, an analyst for Ovum, said Three is likely to be the most critical of Ofcom's proposal, given their on-going battle with the regulator over allocation of spectrum.

Three told IT Pro it is "considering its position and that a statement will be made in due course."

O2 has yet to respond to the request for comment.

Unsurprisingly, Everything Everywhere is very happy with the ruling from Ofcom, claiming the early deployment of 4G is vital for the UK.

"It's very important that the UK does not get left behind in the building of a new infrastructure for the digital economy," the rpovider said in a statement.

"We welcome today's notice of 1800MHz licence variation from Ofcom, as it suggests Ofcom's willingness to encourage the early deployment of 4G LTE."

However, the network has yet to respond to the request for comment regarding its plans the the upcoming spectrum auction.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.