23/08/2012

Everything Everywhere sells spectrum to Three (but they cant use it)

Everything Everywhere (EE) the combined company made up to Orange and T-Mobile has sold off some of their 1800MHz spectrum to Three UK (3). The terms of the deal have not been specified.

EE has 2 x 60 MHz bands in 1800MHz and they were forced to relinquish some of this spectrum by the European Competition Commission (2 x 15 MHz chunks) and they have no done this by selling it to 3.

However there's a twist as 3 won't actually get hold of the spectrum until 2013 (which is pretty much the maximum time frame the Competition Commission allowed), which gives EE a whole year to offer 4G (LTE) services in the 1800MHz band and be a UK monopoly for 4G services (Ofcom granted EE a license variation to allow 4G services in EE's 1800MHz band earlier this week).

All of the other mobile network operators have cried foul play as they have to wait for spectrum to become available in 800MHz and 2.6GHz as part of the digital dividend, but Ofcom won't auction the spectrum until 2013 and it's not expected to be available until at least the end of 2013.

By offering LTE services it's likely devices such as the iPhone 5 and other smartphones and tablets will be able to use these frequencies as they're already used in Australia and some Asia Pacific countries. Though UK Broadband is also offering LTE on their spectrum, it's in a band that's not commonly used for LTE and they are having specific devices made to use it.

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