O2 pushing for faster 4G rollout

O2, along with other UK mobile operators, is in discussions with regulators about how to clear the 800MHz airwaves sooner than scheduled to enable it launch its own 4G service.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

O2 is lobbying to speed up the process of clearing the 800MHz spectrum band for 4G services in order to reducerival operator Everything Everywhere's head start.

O2 wants to see a faster rollout of 4G services, after EE gained a head start on its rivals.

O2 confirmed to ZDNet on Monday that it was in discussions with "the wider industry, regulators and the government" about the possibility of bringing forward the auction process of spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz band in order to allow it to offer 4G LTE services sooner.

ZDNet understands that representatives from the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), Ofcom, EE, O2, Vodafone, Three and Arqiva have all been present in the discussions.

O2 has already started putting infrastructure in place in order to offer 4G services as soon as possible, a spokesman for the network said.

The 800MHz band is currently used for some analogue television broadcasts and air traffic control and must be cleared before it can be used for 4G.

Currently, the 800MHz spectrum is scheduled to be cleared for 4G use by September 2013, meaning that any successful auction bidders would have to wait until this point to launch their services. The 2.6GHz frequency is less of a concern for the operators as there are currently no other services running in the band.

The key driving force behind O2's push is Ofcom allowing EE to refarm its 2G spectrum for 4G services before the end of the year, meaning it doesn't have to wait for the auction before launching 4G and potentially giving it a competitive advantage. The network said last week that it aims to make 4G services available to 20 million people before the end of 2012.

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