UK operator EE will reportedly allow domestic rivals to access a state-subsidised network it is building, as part of the contract it won from the government in December to provide 4G for the country’s emergency services.
EE, which is now owned by BT, will provide access to more than 250 mobile sites for rivals – O2, 3UK and Vodafone – after the companies complained that EE’s new network will receive £500 million in state aid, reports Financial Times.
The operator will use the network to replace the existing two-way radio service run by communications firm Airwave to connect the country’s police, ambulance and fire services, after winning a government tender last year.
It is worth noting that despite its rivals complaints, EE was the only bidder for the contract after O2 dropped out of the running.
According to the FT report, the access provided by EE to its rivals will cover close to 2 per cent of the UK land mass and will mostly be in remote areas where there is no mobile infrastructure.
EE added that its rivals would have access to mobile masts and backhaul access to the national network but only on parts of the network which have been publicly funded.
“Where there is interest from third parties to place their technology on to the small number of sites we’re constructing that are receiving programme funding, then we’ll allow access on the appropriate terms,” EE said.
Wholesale access prices will then be set through agreements between the mobile groups, but Ofcom could intervene if necessary.
A Vodafone spokesman said: “If taxpayers money is being used then the end result needs to be better coverage for customers of all mobile companies, not just EE’s and its owner BT.”
When winning the contract in December, the operator said it would increase the £1.5 billion spend it has already committed to its network up to 2017, to deliver the emergency services network, which it hopes to deploy from mid-2017.