Operators form joint venture to speed up launch of 4G

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Operators form joint venture to speed up launch of 4G

The UK's four operators have formed a joint venture to help speed up the deployment of 4G services next year.

Andrew Pinder [pictured], who is chairman of payments regulator PhonepayPlus, will act as interim chairman for Digital Mobile Spectrum Ltd. The organisation was originally called MitCo and will work on ensuring that consumers continue to receive Freeview TV signals following the roll-out of 4G in spring next year. The organisation will be funded by the successful bidders for 800MHz spectrum in the forthcoming 4G auction.

The creation of the company follows peace talks earlier this month brokered by the Culture secretary Maria Miller. Operators agreed to put legal threats to one side and work together to bring forward the implementation of 4G services following the auction by as much as six months. EE's rivals were unhappy the UK's biggest operator was allowed to refarm its 1800MHz for 4G, with it planning to launch the next generation service later this month.

Miller said: 'The roll-out of 4G is a huge step forward for mobile broadband services in the UK, and will be incredibly important in driving economic growth. I am pleased that the mobile operators will be working together to ensure that no viewers lose their television services when 4G is rolled out, and congratulate them on setting up the assistance scheme so quickly.'

Andrew Pinder said: This is an excellent response by all mobile operators to the Minister’s challenge to set up this company as quickly as possible. It represents a real milestone and I will continue to work with all of the mobile operators and other stakeholders to get plans in place for the rapid launch of 4G services on the spectrum to be auctioned next year.'

Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: 'This is further evidence of the progress that is being made by the industry, guided by Ofcom, to deliver 4G mobile services across the UK. The 4G auction is already on track to begin at the end of the year and the creation of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited ahead of time represents yet another step towards bringing consumers early access to the next generation of mobile broadband services.'

Editor: Graeme Neill

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