UK Broadband, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based telecoms group PCCW, is preparing to launch an LTE network in the UK using spectrum it already holds, with the intention of offering services as early as next year. The company is planning to offer services on a wholesale basis, and its timings will put its network build ahead of those of the UK mobile operators – regulator Ofcom is planning to auction LTE-suitable spectrum next year. According to the Financial Times, Nicholas James, chief executive of UK Broadband, said that “we are currently working with our vendors to finalise the equipment offering on our spectrum. And we are finalising our network planning and our business plan.”
UK Broadband holds 3.5GHz spectrum which was initially licensed for fixed wireless services, although this was subsequently modified to permit use for other applications. The company also has 3.6GHz spectrum it acquired from a failed rival. With the success of fixed broadband services having been limited, the use of the spectrum to deploy LTE will offer obvious benefits to the company. However, it will be implementing the technology in a band that is not currently popular for such deployments, which may limit the availability of infrastructure and devices. The Financial Times reports that UK Broadband has held talks with companies who may want to partner to offer LTE services to customers, including Virgin Media – although it said that Virgin had declined to comment on such talks.