All the main players came away with something from the recently concluded 4G Auction, but some mobile operators will be much happier than one or two others. Two of the big winners of the 4G auction were Vodafone and EE. Vodafone will likely consider themselves the outright winner as they clearly spent the most and acquired the most 4G spectrum.
EE came a close second in the winners table. They have already launched 4G in the 1800 MHz frequency band, so this spectrum needs to be added to that won in the 4G auction to reveal their total 4G frequency holding. Taken as a whole, this means that EE has the largest amount of 4G spectrum and puts them in a commanding position to move forward.
Olaf Swantee, Chief Executive of EE seemed pleased with the outcome of the 4G auction and commented "EE is extremely pleased with the outcome of the spectrum auction. Coupled with our existing 1800MHz 4G network, it consolidates our position as the most advanced, largest and most capable 4G operator in the UK.
Looking at the 4G auction results the main competition to title of “the largest 4G network” will come from Vodafone. However, EE has another 5 or 6 months to be the sole supplier of 4G mobile services before Vodafone and the others will be in a position to play catch-up.
The 4G mobile spectrum holdings reflect the position with regard to 4G spectrum holdings. The holdings are confirmed as : EE has 36% ( a combination of existing 1800MHz and their new 4G auction win ), Vodafone has 28%, O2 has 15%, Three has the least of the mobile operators at 12% and BT ( to be used for 4G mobile broadband ) has 9%.
The above gives EE ( with its 4GEE service ) and Vodafone about double the 4G frequency holding of both O2 and Three. One wild card, yet to be taken into account, is that Vodafone and Three have applied to Ofcom to transfer some older 1800MHz spectrum for 4G use – just as EE did last year. This will further boost Vodafone’s and Three’s holdings once approved. In the meantime, Three has launched an alternative to 4G called Ultrafast as it prepares its 4G mobile network for launch around October this year.
Interestingly, O2 and Three only managed to win a holding in the 800MHz frequency band, which is favoured for it’s longer range. However, performance is not as good, as the 2.6GHz frequency band, which excels in highly populated areas and offers higher speeds. As each mobile operator begins to roll-out 4G later this year, we will see who are the real winners and 3G will cover all the forthcoming launches here.
By Kevin Thomas on 07th March, 2013