Ofcom has today extended the consultation period on Everything Everywhere’s proposal to launch 4G LTE services by refarming its 1800MHz spectrum.
The watchdog said the move would allow stakeholders ‘more time to respond'.
The extension comes just hours after O2 joined Vodafone in protesting against Ofcom’s provisional backing of the proposal earlier this month.
In a statement, Ofcom said: ‘Ofcom today extended the period for responding to Ofcom's "Notice of proposed variation of Everything Everywhere's 1800MHz spectrum licences to allow use of LTE and WiMAX technologies" from 17 April 2012 until 8 May 2012. We have decided to extend this period following requests from stakeholders for more time to respond.’
Ofcom gave Everything Everywhere’s proposal its provisional blessing earlier this month. It said it would be ‘likely to bring material benefits to consumers, including faster mobile broadband speeds and – depending on how Everything Everywhere uses the spectrum – potentially wider mobile broadband coverage in rural areas.’
However, Ofcom’s response brought a storm of protest from rival networks, who argued that it would create unfair competition by allowing Everything Everywhere a headstart on delivering LTE services in the UK.
O2 said this week that such a move could hinder the establishment of a ‘competitive market environment’ for services utilising next generation mobile technology.
In a statement, O2 UK said: ‘From the very start of this process, Ofcom has said that the UK must retain a competitive market environment and that it will remove the ability for operators to behave strategically over spectrum allocation … To this end, Ofcom’s auction proposals had much to commend them, and we were minded to support a small spectrum reservation for Hutchison or a new entrant, if Ofcom could make a stronger case for four players.
'However, we are concerned that Ofcom’s other proposal to allow one operator to launch 4G early on its existing spectrum is contradictory to its objective of delivering a competitive market environment with four competing players. This could expose the process to further risk of delay.’