4G services get go-ahead after crunch talks
4G gets the go-ahead
Superfast 4G services are set to be launched within weeks after crunch talks were held between mobile phone operators and regulators.
Orange and T-Mobile owner EE received the nod to launch its 4G products and services by 30 October as Ofcom agreed to make remaining airspace available to other operators sooner than planned.
Rivals such as Vodafone and O2 owner Telefonica, who were angered that EE was given permission to launch first, had threatened a legal challenge, but a Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesman said today's meeting "dispelled any fears of litigation".
Clearing the airwaves ready for earlier use will allow other operators to offer their services by spring next year, rather than October 2013.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: "Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services.
"The open and collaborative approach taken between the government and the mobile companies will have hugely beneficial results for UK business and investment. We anticipate that 4G services will boost the UK's economy by around £2-3bn. This is an example of the government listening and responding to huge demand from both the public and business. High-speed mobile connections will mean that online services can be accessed more easily and quickly."
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "The actions we have taken with industry and government avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.
"Ofcom's objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year."
EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, last month unveiled its plans to make the country's first state-of-the-art 4G services available to some 20 million people in 16 cities by Christmas.
EE said it will offer 4G to customers in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
The group then plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70 per cent and rising to 98 per cent in 2014.
The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the Web on the go, high-definition movies to be downloaded in minutes, and TV to be streamed without buffering.
EE's 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on Apple's iPhone 5, HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices.
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