EE to sell spectrum; confident on early 4G rollout - Mobile World Live

EE to sell spectrum; confident on early 4G rollout

11 APR 2012

Everything Everywhere has appointed an investment bank to sell-off a chunk of its 1800MHz spectrum – a regulatory requirement following the formation of the merger between T-Mobile UK and Orange UK – but the UK market leader has said it is confident it will be allowed to use the remainder of these airwaves to launch 4G services ahead of its rivals.

About a quarter of the 1800MHz spectrum controlled by Everything Everywhere  will be marketed this month by Morgan Stanley to groups with an interest in setting up a 4G network in the UK, reports the Financial Times.  The sale could fetch £400 million with rival operators the most likely buyers, though “other large technology groups could also be interested.”

“Whoever we sell to has to be approved by the competition authorities. The test is someone who can provide genuine competition,” Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantee (pictured) told the newspaper.

The UK 4G/LTE spectrum auctions – due to take place towards the end of this year following several delays – will be in the 800MHz and 2.6MHz bands. However, Everything Everywhere has asked to use its remaining 1800MHz spectrum to launch 4G ahead of the planned auctions, a request that has drawn criticism from rivals.

“We are confident that this spectrum will be liberalised [and] we can get 4G before the end of the year. The time period of any advantage [that EE may have] is not long,” said Swantee.

He added that the firm may also be required to provide access to this 4G enabled network to rival 3 UK to appease regulatory concerns, although this would need to be agreed under commercial terms.