Everything Everywhere is one step closer to getting LTE set up. In a detailed proposal today, U.K. regulator Ofcom has given Everything Everywhere permission to reassign it’s 2G spectrum to a new LTE network this year. This comes before Ofcom holds a 4G auction for the remaining carriers to get their LTE spectrum, scheduled for Q4 2012. Ofcom has given EE’s competitors until April 17 to register their opposition, which of course they will, but it seems like Ofcom has already reached the conclusion that this will not stifle competition. Once they give their final approval, EE is free to begin launching LTE this year.
The result of the merger between T-Mobile UK and Orange UK, EE has ample spectrum to spare, setting aside the 1800MHz band for LTE. Competing operators use this same frequency for their GSM networks, but EE hasn’t filled up licenses with 2G. Repurposing spectrum to LTE is occurring with greater frequency (no pun intended) around the world. Three Italia is converting their 1800MHz band to LTE, and even in the U.S., carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile are recycling.
Vodafone, Three U.K., and O2 are depending on the 2.6GHz and 800MHz frequencies that Ofcom is auctioning off, but even after they get their airwaves, they are going to have to wait to use it. The 800MHz band is currently being used for analog TV broadcasts, and will not be cleared until next year or longer while the U.K. transitions to a digital standard.