Everything Everywhere May Face Face Delay in 4G Rollout
Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) and France Telecom SA (FTE)’s U.K. mobile-phone venture may have to delay the rollout of faster data services as the first operator this year because regulator Ofcom is still working on the permission.
The watchdog’s chief executive officer Ed Richards said yesterday that Ofcom would continue to work on the application through August. Olaf Swantee, the CEO of the Everything Everywhere venture, said today in an interview that the company’s own timetable might be jeopardized as “we need to have the liberalization during the summer months.”
Everything Everwhere, which had planned to deploy the new network by the end of 2012, needs permission to run the faster services on its existing airwaves and move ahead of Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) and Telefonica SA (TEF), which are waiting for more frequencies to become available at an 2.6 billion-pound ($4 billion) frequency auction before starting their own services.
Ofcom, which first told Everything Everywhere in January that its application to use the existing spectrum would be considered in the first quarter, is “keen to progress as quickly as possible,” Richards said yesterday as he unveiled plans to auction airwaves next year. “It’s being worked on intensively.”
Mobile broadband based on so-called fourth-generation networks will be rolled out to at least 98 percent of villages and cities across the U.K., regulator Ofcom said. Bidding for frequencies will start early next year and is planned to be completed by March, the watchdog said. That would allow Vodafone and Telefonica to roll out faster networks from the middle of 2013.
The auction, which had been delayed several times following threatened legal challenges from the operators, will sell airwaves equivalent to three-quarters of the spectrum currently being used.
The British carriers are seeking to offer high-speed services to persuade subscribers to use more applications on smartphones including Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and handsets using Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Android system.
Based on the amounts spent in Sweden and Germany, the U.K. auction may raise as much as 2.6 billion pounds, according to research firm Analysys Mason.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at email@example.com