Ofcom, the U.K.’s telecoms regulator, has now approved an application by Everything Everywhere to run the nation’s first 4G service. EE had applied to reconfigure its 1800 MHz system from September 11th onward so that instead of supplying 3G voice and data it was a 4G channel.
But the U.K.’s official auction for radio spectrum allocated to general 4G services is yet to happen, after several delays. It’s now set for early 2013, and only after that date will the other large British networks get a chance to deliver 4G to their millions of customers. Thus the decision to permit EE to operate 4G is controversial.
Everything Everywhere is a 50-50 collaboration between operators T-Mobile and Orange that began in 2010 and disrupted the existing business structure and created the country’s biggest mobile operator. A similar attempt by AT&T and T-Mobile U.S.A., albeit through acquisition rather than joint venture, was abandoned in late 2011.