Ofcom's finally approved Everything Everywhere's plan to swap 2G spectrum for 4G to roll out an LTE network before the end of this year, meaning Orange and T-Mobile can now roll out blazing fast 4G in the UK from September 11th. This year. Finally.
Of course precisely when we'll get the sweet, sweet waves of 4G lapping over our green and pleasant land will rest with how fast Everything Everywhere can get its act together. According to the network, talking to TechRadar, we should see dongles and modems available by the end of 2012. Essentially that means no 4G phones until early 2013 from EE, but that's a heck of a lot earlier than what will be possible from the rest of the UK networks, who are still waiting on the conclusion of the 4G spectrum auction, which won't happen until early 2013.
No doubt Ofcom's decision will anger the other UK networks -- Everything Everywhere has just gained an absolutely massive advantage over them all in the 4G war -- but hopefully it won't delay the main 4G auction any more than it already has been. Vodafone, at the very least, is already pretty irate:
“We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."
Despite the inevitable bluster from the rest of the UK phone networks, I almost can't believe it -- it seems we really are going to get 4G in the UK before the end of this year. Even if it is just 4G dongles and portable hotspots, that's progress and it should be truly awesome. Now, time to start saving those pennies; there's no doubt those early 4G services are going to be pricey and come with long-term contracts -- a small price to pay for actual, truly fast, ubiquitous mobile broadband. [Ofcom]
Image credit: Mobile mast from Shutterstock