The UK government has announced that the mobile networks in the UK have buried their differences and agreed a new timetable for the roll out of LTE. The agreements were made at a meeting yesterday involving Ofcom and the rival mobile networks. It was agreed that all of their differences would be settled and the one aim would be to get the roll out of LTE expedited with a target now of Spring 2013; six months earlier than planned according to a report from the BBC.
"Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy," said Culture Secretary Maria Miller. "I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services." A combination of factors, from a change of government to threats of legal action from operators, had slowed down the process to free up spectrum used by analogue television broadcasts. While the auction of the airwaves made available by the digital switchover is still scheduled for January next year, clearing them for 4G use will happen far more quickly than originally envisaged.
Ofcom said that it had secured the earlier release of frequencies that were previously used for digital-terrestrial broadcasting. Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "The actions we have taken with industry and government avoid the risk of significant delay and are tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services."
EE (Everything Everywhere) is all set to launch its LTE network in the coming weeks after they managed to wangle a way around the red tape. This had angered O2 and Vodafone who were looking at taking legal action against EE; further delaying the roll out of LTE. Those threats have now been dropped and EE is free to roll out its LTE services later this month. The competition is now on for the other UK networks to get their services sorted to prevent EE having a longer exclusive that necessary.
This is great news for UK consumers, we are already lagging behind many other countries with the roll out of LTE so this should be a shot in the arm for those of us that want super fast data speeds. If you want to see a demonstration of what LTE is capable of in the UK, make sure to check out our hands on with an iPhone 5 running on EE's LTE network. I am sure you will agree, it's very impressive, Spring 2013 can't come soon enough!
A word or warning if you're on O2 or Vodafone though, the current iPhone 5 on sale in the UK only supports 1800MHz LTE, Vodafone and O2 will only support 800MHz and 2600MHz LTE. This means that you won't be able to enjoy those LTE speeds without changing your phone. You may have to wait for the iPhone 6 unless Apple updates the hardware.