Ofcom has granted the UK operator partnership Everything Everywhere permission to roll out its 4G network early. It could technically be available in time for the launch of the 4G iPhone 5.
Under the agreement, Everything Everywhere - which is comprised of Orange and T-Mobile - will be able to use its 1800MHz spectrum to offer a 4G network service in the UK from September 11 2012.
Ofcom came to this decision because it “will deliver significant benefits to consumers,” while being confident “that there is no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition.”
Everything Everything’s rivals, understandably, would disagree. Responding to the decision, Vodafone made this statement:
“We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."
Not too happy, then.
Still, for UK customers the possible availability of Everything Everywhere’s 4G service could come at an interesting time. Apple’s iPhone 5 is widely expected to be announced on September 12 - and one of its new features should be 4G connectivity. Who would have thought we could have a 4G iPhone in the UK by the end of 2012?
We still may not, as Everything Everywhere won’t necessarily be ready to roll with its 4G offering straight away. Also, there’s no saying for sure that the iPhone 5 will support the UK 4G spectrum - the new iPad's 4G model is incompatible with current European 4G standards.
We should also remember that Everything Everywhere’s initial 4G coverage is likely to be less than comprehensive. All caveats aside though, this is a positive step for UK smartphone users.