Ofcom brings 4G roll-out forward to spring 2013

Telecommunications watchdog Ofcom has brought forward by five month the launch-date of 4G mobile services, aside from EE’s services due later this year.

The regulator said that talks between TV broadcasters, communications infrastructure provider Arqiva and nonprofit digital switchover firm Digital UK led to an agreement to secure the earlier release of frequencies previously used for digital-terrestrial broadcasting for 4G services.

Specifically, two new agreements have brought forward the expected delivery date by around five months. One relates to the reuse of TV transmitters covering around 9 million people in cities around England, and the other for transmitters reaching around 1 million people in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“The actions we have taken with industry and government avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services," said Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive.

Ofcom added, however, that it is now up to the telcos to deliver the services in the alloted timeframe. “While Ofcom managed the process, it will be those involved in the clearance program that do the actual work to make the launch happen,” a spokesman said.

Today, EE (formerly known as Everything Everywhere) announced that its 4G services will be available in October 30. It had previsouly only revealed that 4G would be available later this year.

Ofcom’s announcement was welcomed by the government and by business body CBI.

“Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services,” said Maria Miller, culture secretary for Culture, Media and Sport, in a statement.

“The decision to allow mobile operators to launch superfast broadband services soon after the 4G spectrum auction at the start of next year is great news for businesses and households alike," said Rhian Kelly, CBI director for business environment.

"Faster and more reliable digital communications underpin growth in our most creative industries, and will hopefully spark further technological innovation and boost entrepreneurship across the economy," she said.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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