Pressure from mobile operators has forced Ofcom to delay its decision on whether T-Mobile and Orange UK can launch 4G mobile services using their existing 3G network.
An outcome had been expected on 17 April but any decision will now be delayed until May.
O2 and Vodafone had both criticised the move as giving T-Mobile and Orange UK – aka Everything Everywhere – an unfair advantage, as other operators will have to wait until the sale of 4G bandwidth later this year to provide services in early 2013.
“Ofcom today extended the period for responding to Ofcom’s ‘Notice of proposed variation of Everything Everywhere’s 1800MHz spectrum licences to allow use of LTE and WiMAX technologies’ from 17 April 2012 until 8 May 2012. We have decided to extend this period following requests from stakeholders for more time to respond,” said an official Ofcom statement.
Everything Everywhere plans to use its existing 1800MHz spectrum to offer 4G services, whereas other operators will require the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum that is being sold off in an auction later this year.
In a separate action, Three UK has warned that it may take legal steps to guarantee that it gets a decent share of the 800MHz spectrum when that auction does take place.
“You can expect us to address competition and the principles set out by Ofcom in a four-player market for the benefit of consumers,” a Three UK Spokesperson told The Guardian.
So even though new iPads are being sold as Wi-Fi + 4G, we might not have that 4G service anytime soon.
Before all these delays, the auction of the next generation of mobile spectrum was supposed to take place in the first quarter of 2012 – which is now.