Vodafone seethes as Ofcom clears UK LTE1800 launch

Mobile operator Vodafone has lambasted UK regulator Ofcom for its decision to allow Everything Everywhere to launch LTE services at 1800MHz, ahead of the LTE spectrum auction process. In a statement attributed to a Vodafone UK spokesperson the operator dismissed Ofcom’s ruling as “careless” and “bizarre”, adding that the regulator was “all that stands in the way” of a competitive LTE landscape for the UK.

“We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision,” said Vodafone’s statement. “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.”

Vodafone then cited reports that Everything Everywhere may sell some of its spectrum to 3UK – with which it co-owns a 3G network – as evidence that Ofcom’s decision might unbalance the UK market yet further.

“The regulator has spent several years reusing to carry out a fair and open auction. Now its decision today has granted the two most vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it,” Vodafone said.

“We have committed ourselves to reach 98 per cent of the UK population with indoor 4G services by 2015 – two years before Ofcom’s own target – but we need to acquire spectrum in the auction to achieve this. Ironically, all that stands in our way right now is the regulator,” it added.

The response from Telefónica’s UK operation O2 was less intense. “We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” it said. “This decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK.”

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