Vaizey Calls for Operator Cooperation on 4G Licences

Ed Vaizey, Minister for culture, communications and creative industries at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has called on UK mobile operators to put aside their differences so the 4G licence auction can proceed in the autumn of 2012.

Speaking at the Guardian Mobile Summit this morning, Vaizey said: “We can’t afford any further delays in this process, which is scheduled for autumn 2012. Any further delays would be to the detriment of the economy, businesses and the consumer, so I call on operators put aside their competitive differences.”

Ofcom was forced to push the auctions for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz services back to the end of 2012 in order to consult on the methodology for the auction process, following complaints from the operators, notably O2, which claimed that Ofcoms proposals to use spectrum floors to ensure that a certain amount of the holdings go to rival operators was illegal, and could result in operators other than O2 and Vodafone (which already own 900MHz licences) to potentially acquire spectrum at discounted prices.

Three weeks ago, O2 launched a pilot 4G LTE (long-term evolution) network in London. The pilot will run for nine months, with 25 4G sites going live across the city in November. The network covers 40 square kilometres, from Hyde Park to the O2 Arena in Greenwich.