UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has granted final approval for Everything Everywhere's proposed plan to roll out LTE service on its 1800MHz spectrum ahead of the proper UK 4G auction expected next year. The conglomerate, represented by the T-Mobile and Orange brands in the British market, was keen to seize the initiative by exploiting what resources it already had, which naturally incurred the wrath of direct competitors Vodafone, Three and O2 — none of whom was happy with the idea of losing the title of "first with LTE" before the requisite spectrum was even auctioned off.
Vodafone's reaction to today's news has been quite blunt, with a statement from the company expressing shock at the decision and its impending consequences:
"We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision. The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."
With Ofcom's assent now in hand, Everything Everywhere can proceed with offering LTE connectivity as soon as September 11th, provided its network is in fact ready to handle the load.
Update: An O2 spokesperson has contributed his company's perspective on today's news:
"We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services. This decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK."
Update 2: Three's statement has been somewhat less direct, but voices similar concerns:
"Liberalisation of 2G spectrum to date has distorted the competitive landscape in the UK, which ultimately harms consumers. Further liberalisation without addressing competition issues could make that distortion worse."