It looks like mobile device users in the UK can expect 4G services to begin rolling out a bit sooner than previously expected – six months sooner, to be specific.
The Wallstreet Journal reported Tuesday that the UK government has struck a deal with the UK's four largest mobile operators which will enable the auction of 4G mobile spectrum to begin at the end of 2012, with bidding beginning in early 2013.
The deal, which comes after rumblings that Vodafone and O2 were considering legal action against Everything Everywhere (EE) to stop it launching its own 4G service, was closed on by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller explained "delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy." Indeed, Miller stated that the move to 4G is expected to boost the UK's economy by as much as £2-3 billion.
The auction of mobile spectrum was initially estimated by UK communications regulator Ofcom to begin in Q1 2012. Factors including threats of legal action delayed that estimate, but having secured frequencies previously limited to digital terrestrial broadcasting, Ofcom has indicated that it is in fact prepared to lead the spectrum auction on behalf of the UK government in late 2012. Says Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards:
Ofcom's objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible, and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year.
Even with the current auction timeline set to beat predictions by six months, EE has been green-lighted to begin rolling out its own 4G services even sooner, using its existing infrastructure.
While UK users can't expect to wake up tomorrow to blazing fast 4G speeds, the wait will certainly be shorter than expected. For the full story, follow the link below.