The UK’s largest mobile phone company, Everything Everywhere, should be allowed to offer its 27 million customers a 4G superfast broadband connection this year, according to Ofcom..
The media watchdog said it was inclined to approve an application from EE, which owns the Orange and T-Mobile networks, to launch a 4G network ahead of its rivals.
“Ofcom has considered whether allowing Everything Everywhere to use this spectrum in this way would distort competition, and provisionally concluded that it would not. And given the benefits this would bring to consumers, Ofcom is minded to allow this change of use.”
There will be a consultation, which closes on April 17th. Ofcom could grant approval during the second quarter, allowing EE to have its 4G service running by autumn. The company has not said where it intends to make 4G available, although it will be trialling the technology and is likely to target major cities including London.
This will give EE a significant first-mover advantage over rivals. The UK’s other operators, Vodafone, O2 and Three, are unlikely to be able to create their own 4G networks until they buy more spectrum from the government, and the auction is not due to conclude before the summer of 2013.
Their 4G networks will not be switched on until the end of 2013, giving EE a 15 month head-start.