4G roll-out in the UK is quite the tricky situation and nothing is quite what it appears to be. Whilst 34 other countries have now deployed 4G networks, the UK, traditionally a leader in mobile technology, has been stuck in the 3G stone-age, as network providers quibble over spectrum allocations for new 4G networks.
At the core of the issue, two new frequency bands are up for grabs, 2.6GHz and the newly freed 800MHz, thanks to the shut-down of analogue TV earlier this year. The primary culprits in 4G progression are O2 and Vodafone, who are arguing over current Ofcom auction terms, where the regulator has reserved a base level of spectrum for smaller firm, Three, in order to keep the market competitive.
T-Mobile and Orange's Everything Everywhere, on the other hand, is acting quite mellow over Ofcom's decision, however is losing patience as it waits for matters to be resolved, launching the 4GBritain campaign, encouraging businesses and consumer champions to sign-up as equal partners. The campaign asks government "to do whatever is necessary to move forward" with the roll-out.
Everything Everywhere, however, has previously requested that Ofcom allow it to redeploy its existing 1.8GHz spectrum for 4G and, would have the most to gain from a push to roll-out, as it would be able to redeploy within but a few months, ahead of competition. Launching the 4GBritain campaign could be a last ditch attempt at getting its way, should Ofcom refuse its request, in a ruling that is expected on May 8th.
Both Everything Everywhere and Ofcom claim to be working on behalf of consumer interests and, depending on how you look at the matter, with secondary agendas aside, both are. Were Everything Everywhere to have its way, 4G would be deploying before year's end, however other firms may be disadvantaged by the move, stifling competition. Likewise, Ofcom's approach would ensure healthy long-term competition, but a roll-out could takes years if its decision is challenged in court.
This writer recommends that firms and consumers do join the 4GBritain campaign, though instead push the government for unchallengeable rights to Ofcom's decision or a pre-emptive and fast-tracked challenge in court to place the entire matter to rest.