Given that Everything Everywhere is attempting to swap 3G for 4G services on its 1800MHz band, you’d be forgiven for thinking that selling off a chunk of it wouldn’t be the best move in the world. It’s being forced to sell it off as a condition of the merger between Orange and T-Mobile that created the super-network. Could this provide a small chunk of 4G-capable spectrum to one of its competitors?
The 1800MHz band is typically used for 3G – that’s what the current licence for the spectrum stipulates in the UK. Until Everything Everywhere came up with its plan to get ahead in the race for 4G in Britain, the 1800MHz auction wasn’t all that interesting. Now there's a possibility that whoever buys the quarter chunk of the 1800MHz band being flogged-off could roll out LTE on it too, if EE is given the go-ahead with its 4G plans.
Everything Everywhere has appointed Morgan Stanley to handle the auction, which is set to take place before the end of this year and before the 800MHz and 2.6GHz auction by Ofcom. Considering the timing of the auction, don’t get your hopes up for two networks with 4G in 2012 though. Even if Everything Everywhere is given the go-ahead for LTE on the band, there won’t be time for another network to get 4G up and running on it too before the year is out. It could mean that we’ll end up with two networks with limited 4G up and running with 12 months though; whether that’ll mitigate the chance of a stalled proper 4G-spectrum auction, I don’t know. A two-horse race is always better than a single that's for sure. [ZDNet UK]
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