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Ofcom approves Orange and T-Mobile plan to launch LTE in UK this year

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UK telecom authority Ofcom has granted preliminary approval for joint venture Everything Everywhere to bring LTE to Orange and T-Mobile. The office is currently accepting comments and will file a final report in May.

T-mobile store logo (1020)
T-mobile store logo (1020)

UK telecommunications authority Ofcom has granted preliminary approval for Britain's first commercial LTE network. Earlier today, Ofcom said that it would allow Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, to use the 1800MHz spectrum (which usually hosts 2G communications) for LTE and potentially WiMAX on Orange and T-Mobile's networks. Everything Everywhere announced last month that it would be testing its first 1800MHz LTE network in April following a successful trial on the 800MHz spectrum.

This announcement comes as other British carriers are still waiting for LTE spectrum of their own. Most of the 4G rollout is expected to take place on the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum, which are currently being held for auction by the UK government. They're expected to be awarded in early 2013, but won't be available for use until late 2013 or early 2014. Everything Everywhere, meanwhile, could potentially make LTE available within a few months of approval.

Although Ofcom says it recognizes the potential advantage this deal would give T-Mobile and Orange, it does not see a significant threat to competition. Nonetheless, it's given competitors until April 17th to file comments and says it would accept similar LTE proposals from either Telefónica or Vodafone, which also own 1800MHz spectrum. A final statement on the spectrum change will be issued in May.