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EE Mobile Seek Licence Variation for UK 4G Use at 2100MHz

Friday, August 19th, 2016 (12:31 pm) - Score 1,638
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Mobile operator EE has called on Ofcom to grant a variation of its spectrum access licence in the 2100MHz band, which would allow them to use it for rolling out 4G (LTE) services via the unpaired frequencies of 1899.9 – 1909.9MHz. At present the band is only used for older 3G technology.

The move is designed to support EE’s delivery of the Government’s new Emergency Services Network (details) and that in turn will help the operator to achieve their goal of expanding 4G network coverage to reach 95% of the UK’s landmass (99.8% population coverage) by 2020.

On top of that EE has also asked Ofcom to vary its 800MHz and 1800MHz licences so that they can provide a backhaul (network capacity supply) path to connect mobile base stations, which they claim will also be used by the emergency services in the 1899.9 – 1909.9MHz band. So far Ofcom appears to have no firm objections.

Ofcom’s Statement

The requested licence variation would increase the amount of EE’s existing spectrum holdings which can be used for LTE equipment by 10 MHz. A similar licence variation for O2 and H3G (the holders of the other 10 MHz of spectrum in the 1900 MHz unpaired band) would increase the availability of LTE spectrum for each of them in their existing spectrum holdings by 5 MHz.

We have considered whether our proposal could have implications for competition in the provision of mobile services. Our understanding is that this spectrum is unlikely to be useful for the provision of general, wide area, mobile services and is more suitable for specific, ‘niche’, applications such as that which EE is planning.

We therefore have not identified any reason why we should not agree to the licence variation on competition grounds.

The decision would also open the door to rival operators making the same variation request. Otherwise Ofcom’s consultation will remain open until 30th September 2016.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar bob

    Come on OFCOM just make the frequencies technology neutral for all. That will help increase rollout speeds of new technologies.

    • Avatar wirelesspacman

      Have to admit it is slightly odd that they have not done so yet. Perhaps they are just waiting for the MNOs to actually ask?

    • Avatar TWKND

      Agreed, just let them use their existing spectrum as they see fit.

    • It’s not that odd. The mobile operators are like young children; even the smallest change can sometimes unleash a wave of lawyers on the regulator. So Ofcom approaches such cases on an individual request and analysis basis. Strictly speaking the EU has already approved use of the spectrum for 4G, but the operators do have to request first.

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