Everything Everywhere, the joint venture comprising of T-Mobile and Orange, will be the first to roll out 4G in the UK as of next month. Regulatory body Ofcom has approved the first big 4G steps for our fair isle, in a move which has left rivals such as Vodafone miffed.
Superfast 4G networks will allow us to download media at an incredibly fast rate while on the move, something our American cousins (and some of our European brethren) have been enjoying for a while. The roll out is unlikely to be fast, however, and most consumers are unlikely to reap the benefits until early 2013. An auction is due to be held later this year for other networks to grab a slice of the 4G pie, although Three is in talks to join the Everything Everywhere bandwagon.
Vodafone has already released a statement showing its displeasure at Ofcom’s ruling. An anonymous UK spokesperson for the network had this to say:
'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...by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.
'Ofcom’s timing is particularly bizarre given the reports that Everything Everywhere is currently in discussions to sell some of its spectrum to Three, which Ofcom has previously been at such pains to protect with its over-engineering of the 4G auction. This means the balance in the auction will fundamentally change.
'We wholeheartedly support the Secretary of State’s call for the 4G auction to occur in December and look to the regulator to finally do its job and produce a competitive market for 4G services as soon as possible.'
Of course, most UK mobile users won’t have a 4G-compatible phone, so a handset upgrade will be necessary to take advantage of the new 4G networks. Broadbandchoices.co.uk also pointed out the dangers of rushing into a 4G contract:
'New technology always comes at a premium, and with one network given early access it will unfortunately mean no competition on pricing, albeit only for a short time. We would urge mobile phone users to wait until all networks have 4G access and compare the packages available before rushing to make the switch.'