Everything Everywhere's 4G network bid: a storm in a teacup?
Can Everything Everywhere provide the solution to Britain's 4G deficit without damaging competition?
Ofcom has also granted a number of test and development licences in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands. All of the major operators have conducted LTE trials around the UK, and Clear Mobitel, Arqiva and Manx Telecom (Isle of Man) have also set up pilot projects.
To add to the confusion, it was recently revealed that the "Wi-Fi + 4G" version of Apple's latest iPad will not support 4G in the UK, even after the spectrum auction later this year. This is because in the United States, where Apple is headquartered, LTE is delivered in the 700MHz band.
The new iPad does support HSPA+ in all of the main bands, which in the US is described as 4G. However, in the rest of the world, HSPA+ is regarded as 3.5G, or “3G+”. Apple has now been forced by the Advertising Standards Authority to withdraw claims in the UK that its new iPad has "4G capability" to join high-speed mobile broadband services.
The iPad incident demonstrates the need for operators and device manufacturers to prepare for the arrival of 4G in the UK. Operators need to fortify their networks in preparation for the forthcoming deluge of data, and device manufacturers need to make sure their smartphones and tablets support as many 4G frequencies as possible.
Whether Everything Everywhere gets permission to launch its network ahead of the auction or not, GSA predicts that LTE will be a mainstream global technology by the end of 2012, and the eventual arrival of 4G in the UK will bring greater productivity, economic benefits and new jobs.