UK mobile operators back down on 4G legal action

UK mobile operators have agreed to cooperate on getting UK 4G launched, rather than take legal action against Ofcom, the Financial Times has reported

UK mobile operators have agreed to cooperate on getting UK 4G launched, rather than take legal action against Ofcom, the Financial Times has reported.

The agreement means Everything Everywhere will launch its 4G service within weeks, since it has access to the 1800 MHz spectrum.

In August, Ofcom gave Everything Everywhere the thumbs-up to launch its 4G service ahead of rival operators Vodafone, O2 and Three. At the time, Vodafone and O2 said they were shocked by the decision and threatened to take legal action against Ofcom over its decision to give Everything Everywhere an "unfair, competitive advantage".

Any action against Ofcom taken by Vodafone and O2 would have affected the expected October launch of Everything Everywhere's 4G service and the legal ramifications would have put back the roll-out of UK 4G services indefinitely. 

Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca, welcomed the decision by the mobile operators not to take legal action. He said they needed to be more innovative with their product offerings rather than fight legal battles. "They can look at price and packaging and bring together fibre networking and 4G as a complete package," he added.

The availability of 4G in the UK could open up greater innovation among the operators. Bamforth said the mobile operators were moving away from providing just mobile telecommunications towards becoming communications providers. He said such a strategy would benefit their enterprise customers in the long run, as the operators could develop more holistic product offerings with integrated billing for fixed and mobile data services.

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