It was kind of inevitable that the other networks were going to balk at the idea of letting the super-network Everything Everywhere trade some of its masses of 3G spectrum for 4G, but now O2’s officially thrown its toys out of the pram too.
“We are concerned that Ofcom's other proposal to allow one operator to launch 4G early on its existing spectrum is contradictory to its objective of delivering a competitive market environment with four competing players. This could expose the process to further risk of delay.”
I’m not sure it’s exactly true to say it’ll cause delay in rolling out 4G nationwide – this plan to use the 1800MHz band for LTE shouldn’t hold up the further free spectrum auctions to be held later this year. For the sake of getting 4G off the ground as quickly as possible on our humble little island, let’s hope Ofcom isn’t put off by the complaints, and that the other networks leave it at just complaints, not further legal action. I want my 4G now, damn it. [O2]
Image credit: Crying baby from Shutterstock
Update: O2's contacted us to clarify what it meant by a "further risk of delay" citing Vodafone's explanation of the situation:
“This decision leaves Everything Everywhere free to prevent anyone else from launching 4G services by bogging next year’s auction down in endless litigation. It has already threatened to do so once before. On Ofcom’s own admission, all the other players in the market require new spectrum in order to run LTE so Ofcom’s plan will deal a terrible blow to competition in the UK.”
The two networks are right, if Everything Everywhere sticks a spanner in the works like that it'll cause major delays for the rest of the networks. Hopefully Ofcom can find a way tie EE's hands from creating this kind of mess, though I'm not sure it has that kind of power. We'll have to see how all this plays out in the coming months.