4G meeting to determine spectrum future set for today

Sources say the meeting between mobile operators, Ofcom and minister for media, culture and sport, Maria Miller, will happen this afternoon

The UK’s major mobile operators will be meeting with the department for media, culture and sport (DCMS), and telecoms regulator Ofcom, today to discuss the future of 4G.

A source close to the situation has confirmed to Computer Weekly the meeting will take place this afternoon with representatives from all the networks, as well as the cabinet minister in charge, Maria Miller.

The discussion will focus on whether the spectrum auction for allocating 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies – which will in turn be used for 4G services across the UK – can be brought forward from its current proposed date of January 2013 in order to placate the operators which feel they have been left behind.

Earlier this year Ofcom gave EE – formerly Everything Everywhere – permission to re-purpose its 1800MHz spectrum to use it for 4G services. However, this meant it put the company ahead of O2, Vodafone and 3 in getting the faster mobile broadband services to market.

This left the operators feeling EE had a unfair competitive advantage over them and the threats of legal action soon followed.

Although moving the auction forward won’t prevent EE being the first to offer 4G, it will enable its rivals to launch their own versions as early as May rather than having to wait until later in the summer.

Ofcom and the DCMS hope this might stop any legal action being taken, especially by O2 and Vodafone, to stop EE launching 4G, which in turn will cause further delays to the UK rolling out the technology.

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