Everything Everywhere has sold two chunks of its 1800MHz spectrum to Three, as part of the merger of Orange and T-Mobile.
The deal, which will double the capacity available to customers on Three's network, is believed to have been for much less than the £425m some analysts suggested the spectrum sale could net Britain's largest operator. O2 and Vodafone were understood to have been in the running for the spectrum.
Ofcom and the European Commission will review whether the sale satisfies the commitments of the 2010 merger between Orange and T-Mobile. This process is expected to last three months.
Three UK CEO David Dyson said: 'Acquiring this spectrum will more than double the capacity available to customers on our network. We have seen a huge growth in data consumption with average mobile handset customer usage now more than 1.1GB per month. Three has led the market in the significant growth of mobile data consumption and the shift to consumer use of smartphones to access the internet.
'New spectrum, supported by further committed technology spend, is a clear signal that we are committed to maintain our lead as the network built for the mobile internet.'
The sale comes after Ofcom granted Everything Everywhere permission to refarm its remaining 1800MHz spectrum holding to launch a 4G service. The operator intends to launch the service later this year and it will come under a new rebranded name.
While the sale will give Three a chunk of the spectrum on which Everything Everywhere is launching a 4G service, it does not mean the operator can follow suit and launch its own next generation service this year. Everything Everywhere has until September 2013 to clear the spectrum it sold today.
Editor: Graeme Neill