UK operators guarantee speedy 4G roll-out

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EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have created Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, a company designed to coordinate the roll-out of 4G on the 800MHz spectrum band

The UK’s largest mobile network operators have signed an agreement which prevents them from delaying the deployment of 4G services in the 800MHz band.

Chairman of Ofcom, Ed Richards, wrote to the culture secretary Maria Miller earlier this week confirming that EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have signed the ‘MitCo Shareholder Agreement’.

The agreement, says Richards, “contains important safeguards to preclude any individual 800MHz licensee from frustrating the work of MitCo and thereby delaying the deployment of 4G services in the 800MHz band.”

They have also created a company together called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited to ensure that Freeview customers continue to get clear signals during the roll-out of 4G.

A statement from Ofcom, the government and the operators says the joint company is “one of the key institutions required to ensure the rapid roll-out of 4G services next year.”

The company “will be responsible for ensuring that consumers continue to receive clear Freeview TV signals following the roll out of 4G mobile services in the 800 MHz spectrum band from the Spring of next year.”

If any other mobile company gains 800MHz in the upcoming spectrum auction, they will also automatically become part of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited.

Deployment of 4G services in other frequency bands does not require similar measures to be put in place, the regulator added.

In his letter to the culture secretary, Richards also confirmed that the bidding process for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz is on track to begin in January.

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