Britain could see next-generation high-speed mobile services by the end of this year after telecoms regulator Ofcom said it would let mobile operator Everything Everywhere reuse its radio spectrum for a 4G network.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />
Everything Everywhere  (London), a joint venture between France Telecom (Paris) and Deutsche Telekom  (Bonn, Germany), said last month it expected to start building a next-generation LTE network by the end of 2012, but it needed Ofcom's sanction to use its radio spectrum for the new, faster services.
The regulator gave a provisional conclusion on Tuesday that the move by Britain's biggest mobile carrier would bring benefits to consumers without distorting competition.
"Allowing Everything Everywhere to reuse its spectrum in this way is likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speed and - depending on how Everything Everywhere uses the spectrum - potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas," it said.
Interested parties have four weeks in which to submit their views. Vodafone (London), a chief competitor of Everything Everywhere, said it was surprised by Ofcom's decision, given that it had been taken before the rules for the auction of spectrum for 4G services had been concluded.
"We share the regulator's desire to see the next generation of mobile internet services rolled out quickly and placed within the reach of many more people in rural areas," a Vodafone UK spokesman said.
"But we seriously doubt that consumers' best interests will be served by giving one company a significant head start before any of its competitors have a clear path to 4G ."