UK regulator Ofcom has drawn up plans to speed up the upcoming 4G spectrum auctions in a bid to settle a row between the country’s mobile operators.
The BBC reports that Ofcom is due to have a “crunch meeting” with the operators this week and has told the government that the auction process could be accelerated so that 4G networks using the new spectrum could be up-and-running in many places by May or June next year.
Such a move appears an attempt to appease Vodafone and O2, which have been angered by Ofcom’s controversial decision to allow market-leader Everything Everywhere (EE) to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for early LTE services – and therefore launch 4G ahead of rivals. Last month EE launched a new 4G brand and pledged to launch LTE services in 16 UK cities by Christmas.
A deal that prevents legal action by rival operators could see EE switch on its 4G networks by the end of this month, the BBC says.
Auctions in the 800/2600MHz bands suitable for 4G are expected to take place in December, though under normal circumstances it could take up to a year for wining bidders to launch using the new airwaves.
3 UK – the country’s smallest operator – is to launch 4G using spectrum it is acquiring from EE, though this transaction may not complete until September 2013.