Ofcom lets Intel-funded firm offer mobile WiMax

Freedom4 can now use the 3.6GHz frequency band to offer mobile WiMax services in the UK, while the industry waits for the wider-ranging 2.6GHz spectrum to become available

Ofcom has allowed an Intel-funded UK company to offer mobile WiMax services on the 3.6GHz frequency.

Freedom4, which is co-owned by the Daisy Group, already offers fixed WiMax services to businesses in Milton Keynes, Manchester and Warwick, as a cheaper substitute for symmetrical DSL connections. Now that it has permission from the telecoms regulator, the firm can offer a version of WiMax that lets the user move around while retaining connectivity.

"The company now has both the spectrum position and technical capability to implement a network and services platform ideally suited to compete in the rapidly expanding market for fixed and mobile broadband wireless access," Freedom4 chief executive Mike Read said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mobile WiMax is a competitor to LTE, the upcoming upgrade to 3G. Although 3.6GHz spectrum can be used for mobile WiMax, the 2.6GHz frequency would provide connectivity over greater distances. However, no WiMax company is able to get 2.6GHz spectrum right now as a planned auction for 2.6GHz spectrum has been held up by a legal dispute between Ofcom and mobile operators T-Mobile and O2.

Graham Currier, chief operating officer of Freedom4, said Freedom4 "is maintaining a close interest" in the 2.6GHz auction process, but was not yet ready to say whether or not it wanted to bid for spectrum in that band.

Freedom4 has not yet decided where it might roll out mobile WiMax, Currier told ZDNet UK on Thursday. "Whilst we have models for rollout, we are now reviewing our options based on the new capabilities we have achieved in our licence," he said.

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