Everything Everywhere has been pushing for 4G roll-out for some time, with Ofcom currently running a consultation to allow it utilise its 1800 MHz spectrum for a pre-auction service.
The provider who is made up of T-Mobile and Orange has launched a campaign called 4GBritain that is aiming to put pressure on the Government and Ofcom to move the 4G roll-out forward. Current timetable means that the UK is not likely to see the auction completed until 2013, with roll-out starting that year.
As it stands Vodafone and O2 look set to challenge any auction that uses the current format by Ofcom because they view the spectrum set aside for the 3 network as favourable treatment. Ofcom views this set aside as helping to promote competition by ensuring as large a number of 4G operators as possible.
Capital Economics commissioned by Everything Everywhere has carried out research into the benefits of 4G services in the UK assuming 4G is rolled out to 95% of the population. The Everything Everywhere coverage makes a positive point of the abilities for 4G, but it does paint a pessimistic picture for fixed line broadband, "Provide access to mobile superfast broadband to at least 10 million people who won’t be able to get fixed line superfast broadband by end of the decade". Looking at this another way the suggestion is that around a sixth of the UK population will not have access to a fixed superfast broadband service by 2020. This represents a failure of the BDUK projects to meet they 2015, and the fixed line industries to have not improved the situation by 2020.
We strongly suspect that with a large sporting event happening in London this year, that until that is over there will be little progress in the 4G arena. If Everything Everywhere can bring together the providers, in that timeframe, then we might see the 4G auction happening slightly earlier, particularly if visitors to the UK have less than kind words about the state of mobile broadband in the capital over the summer.