EE accused of monopoly push over 4G campaign

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Operator expresses disappointment at the reactions of competitors after they accuse it of trying to influence the government’s decision on 4G roll-out

Everywhere (EE) says it is disappointed by the reaction of its network rivals following the launch of its ‘4G Britain’ campaign last week.

The 4G Britain website, which went live on April 30, includes information on the benefits of 4G and how it could contribute an extra £7.5 billion a year to the UK economy within a decade.

EE said the site is designed to help speed up the roll-out of 4G services in the UK.

But Three, Vodafone and O2 have accused EE of using the campaign to influence the government’s decision on 4G roll-out, which could see EE become the first UK operator to offer 4G services.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation process to determine whether it should uphold its decision to allow EE to redeploy its existing 1,800MHz spectrum for 4G services. The consultation is due to end this week (May 8).

O2 claims that if Ofcom allowed this, it would give EE up to a year’s head start on its rivals to launch a commercial 4G service – while they will have to wait until the proposed spectrum auction scheduled for later this year.

An O2 spokesperson said: “Everything Everywhere has asked the government for a change to its licence to run 4G services on its existing 2G network band so it can launch up to a year early, something the other operators are not in a position to do.

“It would seem, therefore, that this campaign 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.”

A Three spokesperson added: “We are beginning to sense that this is indeed a campaign to push for and protect a potential monopoly position.”

An EE spokesperson said: “It is disappointing that some of our competitors are claiming that research and a website built to help stimulate awareness amongst the public of the potential benefits of 4G, is in any way bad for consumers and the wider British economy.

“This is a ridiculous position for them to adopt, especially when you consider the significant levels of investment and job creation that 4G will bring to the UK.”

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