EE, Telefónica O2, Three and Vodafone have announced that they have made further progress in speeding up the deployment of 4G mobile phone services in the 800MHz frequency band vacated by the Digital Switchover. Following recent constructive work with Ofcom and DCMS Ministers, the four mobile phone companies have formally created one of the key institutions required to ensure the rapid roll-out of 4G services next year.
The four operators have formed a jointly controlled company called Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited, originally called MitCo, and appointed Andrew Pinder as interim chairman. It 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. Deployment of 4G services in other frequency bands does not require similar measures to be put in place.
Creating the company now will further accelerate the rollout of competitive 4G services next year. It will be funded by the successful bidders for 800MHz spectrum in the forthcoming auction and provisions exist to make sure that if any other party acquires some of this spectrum in the auction they can immediately become a shareholder in the company.
Bringing forward the creation of the company was one of the areas highlighted by Ofcom and the Government in their recent discussions with the mobile phone companies about accelerating the roll-out of competitive 4G services. Those discussions culminated in a broad agreement on the steps needed to create a competitive 4G market at a meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller on October 2nd.
Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller said: “The roll-out of 4G is a huge step forward for mobile broadband services in the UK, and will be incredibly important in driving economic growth. I am pleased that the mobile operators will be working together to ensure that no viewers lose their television services when 4G is rolled out, and congratulate them on setting up the assistance scheme so quickly.”
Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards said: “This is further evidence of the progress that is being made by the industry, guided by Ofcom, to deliver 4G mobile services across the UK. The 4G auction is already on track to begin at the end of the year and the creation of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited ahead of time represents yet another step towards bringing consumers early access to the next generation of mobile broadband services.”
Andrew Pinder, who has been appointed to act as interim chairman of Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited said: “This is an excellent response by all mobile operators to the Minister’s challenge to set up this company as quickly as possible. It represents a real milestone and I will continue to work with all of the mobile operators and other stakeholders to get plans in place for the rapid launch of 4G services on the spectrum to be auctioned next year.”