O2 has called for a fresh consultation on the decision to allow Everything Everywhere to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for a 4G service.
It said Ofcom would give Everything Everywhere an 'unfettered monopoly' on 4G for at least 18 months if it is given the go-ahead. Ofcom has argued the issue of liberalising spectrum was dealt with when Orange and T-Mobile merged in 2010, but O2 said this was wrong. It said: 'The consequence of granting immediate liberalisation would be the creation of a monopoly provider of 4G national wholesale services for a period of at least 18 months and very likely substantially longer.'
An O2 spokesperson said: 'Everything Everywhere has asked the Government for a change to its licence to run 4G services on their existing 2G network band, so they can launch up to a year early, something the other operators are not in a position to do. It would seem that this is about the interests of one business rather than for the benefit of all UK customers and to deliver on the promise of making Britain digital.'
Vodafone also criticised Ofcom, arguing Everything Everywhere could have a 'unjustifiable head start...which could seriously undermine competition in the UK market for many years to come'.
The criticisms were posted in response to Ofcom's consultation on the regulator's website. It is unclear when Ofcom will take a final decision on the plans.
Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swanteee said: 'Everything Everywhere is ready, able and willing to invest in launching 4G this year, pending approval from Ofcom. Research from Capital Economics shows that launching 4G in the UK will unleash more than £5.5bn private investment into our country, create and sustain 125,000 jobs, and, in time, boost GDP by 0.5%, all at a critical time for the economy. If the launch of 4G is delayed yet again, then Britain will fall even further behind the rest of Europe.
'Being one of several potential companies able to launch 4G this year does not make us a ‘monopoly’. This is exactly the type of rhetoric that is designed solely to delay the launch of 4G in the UK.
'Opposing the launch of 4G in the UK smacks of corporate priorities gone wrong. Such action represents a desire to stifle investment in the UK, while exploiting as much money from existing infrastructure – all of which will ultimately undermine Britain’s drive to build a significant digital economy for the 21st century.'
Editor: Graeme Neill