Three has acquired portions of Everything Everywhere's 4G-ready 1800MHz spectrum, taking it a step towards launching its own 4G service.
Both UK operators confirmed the deal, which will see two 15MHz chunks of the spectrum given over for sole use by Three, though no financial terms were detailed.
Part of the reason for the deal is that Everything Everywhere, who own Orange and T-Mobile, was obliged to sell off part of its 1800MHz spectrum as part of the deal which saw the company form from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile here in the UK. Ofcom and the European Commission felt the merger reduced competition as the combined company would hold too much of the 1800MHz spectrum. Three secured the spectrum in a sealed bidding process.
Coming on the back of news yesterday that the go ahead has been given for Everything Everywhere to launch a 4G network as soon as 11 September - in time for the expected 21 September launch of the iPhone 5 - it had been speculated that Three would be buying into this early adoption but that appears not to be the case. Rather, Three will have to get permission form the European Commission and wait for Everything Everywhere to stop using the spectrum - something it isn't obliged to do until September 2013 - before it can take control. Given these factors it is expected Three, like all the other UK operators apart from Everything Everywhere will actually be launching 4G services some time into 2013.