New 4G timetable agreed between mobile operators
03 Oct 2012
Vodafone and O2 likely to launch services in the early part of 2013
After the threats and counter-threats of legal action, the big mobile operators, Ofcom and the Government have all sat down and finally agreed a peace plan for the rollout of 4G in the UK.
It looks like rollout of the high-speed service will be faster than expected, with the government now saying that the improved data services will be here by spring 2013. On top of that, the EE service, which has been subject to legal threats after jumping the 4G queue, has now been given the go-ahead to launch later this year. EE has already promised to launch 4G in 16 UK cities by New Year, so expect to see coverage appearing any week now, especially with 4G-compatible phones hitting the market.
However, in terms of the 4G auction, nothing has really changed. That will still take place in January 2013, but the results of that auction will be implemented far faster – not least because regulator Ofcom has secured the earlier release of frequencies that were previously used for digital-terrestrial broadcasting.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: 'The actions we have taken with industry and Government avoid the risk of significant delay and are tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.'
The initial EE service will be the first one under the spotlight, with the company promising 4G services for 70% of the UK by end of 2013, and 98% of the UK in just two years. Compatible phones may now be available, but 4G contract pricing is still to be revealed.