Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence has accused Ofcom of having 'taken leave of its senses' after the regulator gave Everything Everywhere the green light to potentially bring 4G to the UK this year.
He accused the regulator of handing Everything Everywhere an 'undeserved competitive advantage' in allowing the operator to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for 4G use. Laurence said: 'Ofcom appears to have taken leave of its senses. The regulator has always stressed that competition is in the best interests of consumers and the British economy yet here it is all but agreeing to grant the largest player in the market a headstart on the next generation of mobile internet services.'
Laurence said the move could result in Everything Everywhere launching 'endelss litigation' to slow down the forthcoming 4G auction. He said: 'On Ofcom’s own admission, all the other players in the market require new spectrum in order to run LTE so Ofcom’s plan will deal a terrible blow to competition in the UK.'
Laurence also claimed that if it is given the go-ahead to refarm its spectrum, Everything Everywhere would be under no obligation to offer services to rural areas. He added: 'We know the Government wants to be a friend to business but surely that shouldn’t mean giving the biggest player in the UK market such an undeserved advantage.'
Responding to Laurence, an Everything Everywhere spokesman said: 'It is our aspiration to bring 4G to the UK as soon as possible, enabling the people and businesses of Britain to benefit from the fastest mobile data speeds, and to allow the country to catch up with Europe and the rest of the world. As the Prime Minister noted this morning, the USA already has 4G capacity in place and our major European competitors are ahead of us in setting up their 4G networks.
'The EU has already mandated the updating of all spectrum licences across Europe, and consequently Ofcom is now carrying out its duty to make this happen quickly for British consumers and businesses. We fully support this.'
Editor: Graeme Neill