Everything Everywhere claims it is a step ahead of its rivals in its 4G plans because other mobile operators are too busy focusing on cost efficiencies, instead of innovation.
The combined entity of T-Mobile and Orange is hoping that Ofcom will approve the liberalisation of its existing 1800MHz spectrum in June– previously used for 2G services – to enable it to roll out 4G on a small scale this year. If Ofcom does not give its permission, Everything Everywhere expects to win some of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum that the regulator is auctioning off, and start rolling out 4G on it for its 27 million customers next year.
“Vodafone and O2 have had their opportunity to do the same [roll out 4G] and they have chosen not to champion 4G at this stage. It’s a choice.
“The 900MHz they have [they could have used for 4G]. They have chosen to reuse that spectrum for 3G [instead]. It is part of an efficiency drive,” said David Salam, head of network strategy and architecture at Everything Everywhere.
“We are not looking at low cost [strategies]. We are looking ahead. We are a stage ahead of them,” he added.
If Vodafone and O2 were to start rolling out 4G now, they could do it in nine to 12 months, added Tom Bennett, director of network services and device development at Everything Everywhere. It was about creating the “eco-system” – including device manufacturers – needed to support it, he said.
However, O2 argued that this eco-system did not exist, and was unlikely to develop.
“Everything Everywhere say we can ask to liberalise our own 900MHz spectrum for 4G but, as they know, there are no devices compatible with 4G on that band.
“There is so little 900MHz spectrum in Europe that it doesn’t make commercial sense for the manufacturers to build the handsets to support it. And that is not going to change,” an O2 spokesperson said.
O2 also denied the accusation that it was not ‘championing’ 4G. Vodafone had not replied to a request for comment at the time of writing.
“Everything Everywhere has asked the government for a change to its licence to run 4G services on their existing 2G network band, so they can launch up to a year early, something the other operators are not in a position to do.
“Our preparations have involved the UK’s first London 4G trial network, which is used and exploited by our 4G superfans. Our efforts have demonstrated the very real need for, and benefit of, 4G in the UK,” the spokesperson added.
Everything Everywhere recently launched a campaign to promote the importance of bringing 4G to the UK as soon as possible, as it believes the country is lagging behind regions such as North America, where Verizon has been running a 4G network for two years.
“Compared to 3G [where the UK was ahead of the rest of the world], we are easily two years behind [with 4G],” said Bennett.