Everything Everywhere is not being straight with the public in its 4G Britain campaign, say rival operators, as they step up their attacks on the telecoms company.
The 4G Britain campaign launched on Monday (30 April), with claims the rollout of next generation mobile services could add 0.5% to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by the end of the decade, create or safeguard 125,000 UK jobs, or unlock £5.5bn of private investment into the UK economy. The 4G Britain campaign site lists support from the likes of Huawei and Virgin Media, which is an Everything Everywhere MVNO.
Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantee (pictured) said: ‘The UK has the highest levels of smartphone penetration and mobile commerce in Europe, and Britons deserve to have the best infrastructure in place to support this growth.’
However, rival operators attacked Everything Everywhere for not making clear on the 4G Britain campaign site that it could be the first operator to launch 4G if Ofcom gives its application to refarm 1800MHz spectrum the green light.
One operator told Mobile: ‘It needs to be a little franker with the public. There’s nothing wrong with involving the public in the campaign but it needs to be clear what the campaign is for. It wants a headstart on 1800MHz. That’s a fair enough position for it to hold but it needs to be honest about its advantage.’
Another operator said the research, conducted for Everything Everywhere by Capital Economics, was based on the widespread rollout of 4G services.
A Vodafone spokesman said it was invited to join the 4G campaign ‘at the last minute’, but declined as it believes ‘a level playing field’ is needed for the rollout of 4G services.
In its response to Everything Everywhere, Vodafone said: ‘We’re already asking the Government and regulator [Ofcom] to make sure that everyone can launch this technology as soon as possible. We strongly believe that a competitive market for 4G services – as exists in other European markets – is in the best interests of everyone.’
Everything Everywhere is understood to believe that Vodafone could apply to refarm elements of its own spectrum holding. However, a spokesman denied this was the case. He said: ‘Everything Everywhere’s claim that today’s operators can also launch 4G services [subject to a willingness to invest and a variation to their licence] conveniently forgets that Everything Everywhere controls over 83% of all mobile spectrum in the frequency band that Ofcom is considering to vary.
‘Other operators are using their more limited spectrum holdings to serve current customers so they cannot clear it as quickly as Everything Everywhere. Therefore, we believe the introduction of 4G should be linked to the availability of suitable amounts of cleared spectrum for other players.’