Early LTE will drive $9bn for UK economy says EE
UK's largest cellco is lobbying to roll out LTE ahead of its rivals, using its 1.8GHz GSM spectrum
Published: 30 April, 2012
Everything Everywhere, the UK's largest cellco, is stepping up the pressure on regulators to allow it to deploy LTE this year in its 1.8GHz GSM spectrum. The firm says an early move to 4G will help drive £5.5bn in direct investment in the UK, as well as creating a 0.5% rise in GDP, which would equate to £75bn a year.
UK regulator Ofcom had given out favourable signals earlier this year, suggesting it would allow EE to start refarming its 1.8GHz spectrum as early as the autumn, before new LTE frequencies become available in the auction, which is scheduled for the end of the year. But the plan has encountered opposition from Vodafone and O2, whose own GSM spectrum is in 900MHz, which they argue will be more problematic to refarm for LTE. Therefore, they insist that an early move by EE would give it an unfair competitive advantage.
But the largest operator - a joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile - says that its roll-out would kickstart the whole market and accelerate its rivals' own investments in 4G, which would total £5.5bn ($9bn) for national services. "This will spur investment in the UK," said EE's CEO, Olaf Swantee, in an interview. "Without 4G, it's really difficult for our networks to cope with the traffic."
The cellco cites research by Capital Economics for its claim that operators will spend £5.5bn by 2015 to upgrade their networks or build new ones. This would also create or safeguard 125,000 UK jobs, it claims, and drive £8bn in "purchasing stimulus" in the supply chain. EE itself has announced plans to spend £1.5bn over the next three years on its networks, to manage the explosion in mobile data, and then it will invest £500m a year after that.
The operator has launched a website - www.4GBritain.org - to help people learn about LTE and "say why they want it to be introduced in the UK". Vodafone responded in a statement: "We strongly believe that a competitive market for 4G services - as exists in other European markets - is in the best interests of everyone."