Everything Everywhere Gets 4G License – The Industry Reacts

Following yesterdays news that Everything Everywhere, owner of the Orange and T-Mobile brands, received approval from Ofcom to launch the UKs first 4G network next month, there have been a whole range of developments, updates, and responses.

First is the news that EE will sell some of the 1800MHz spectrum it is acquiring to Three, which the operator could used to deliver 4G services of its own, in accordance with an EU ruling. Its not clear when this handover will go across, and rumours claim that it could take a full year, as EE drags its feet.

The move is intended to prevent EE gaining any unfair advantage in the operator market, but its clearly not enough for other operators. Both Vodafone and O2 have struck out at the decision.

The statement from O2 reads: “We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services. This decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK.”

Meanwhile, Vodafones own statement reads: “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.”

EE has also been quick to clear up yesterdays confusion about whether it would be dropping the separate Orange and T-Mobile branding along with this development.

It has confirmed that it is intending to launch a new brand in the UK later this year – which, rumours have it, might be 4G Everywhere, which was registered as a trademark earlier this year – but that “this new brand will sit alongside our existing brands Orange and T-Mobile”.

Its not just EE which sees Ofcoms decision in a positive light. Eric Abensur, CEO at eCommerce solutions provider Venda, thinks that 4G launching in the UK earlier than previously planned should be a great thing for retailers and brands. 

“Slow or unreliable connections can often cause customers to drop off when shopping via a smartphone,” Abensur says. “The launch of next-generation mobile internet will create a huge leap in the value of the mCommerce sector. Availability of 4G connectivity in the UK will provide huge impetus for growth of mCommerce, and a boost to retailers looking to regain connection with customers.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Ferguson, editor of Thinkbroadband, thinks the move will be welcomed by consumers – and might even not be quick enough.

“The question now is what level of coverage will be available, it is not clear how much of the Orange/T-Mobile mast network will be upgraded to 4G and in what time scale,” says Ferguson. “For mobile road warriors, the choice of 4G – which particularly in its first year of deployment will be free of congestion – will be snapped up. And if the iPhone5 launches with support for 1800 MHz LTE, then this will give Everything Everywhere a competitive edge, but Apple has not released firm information on what LTE frequencies the iPhone5 will support, it may not work with any planned 4G network in the UK.”