The UK has been waiting a long time for LTE, and according to ED Vaizey, the UK’s communications minister, it’s going to have to wait a fair bit longer. Speaking at the Future Entertainment Summit (FES) in London, he told the delegates that while UK regulator Ofcom was taking the head to the delay, the fault lies at the door of the telecoms companies and their coterie of lawyers who are poised to attack.
Vaizey said that 4G, as LTE is now called, would arrive in 2013/2014, which implies the end of 2013. “”We are not going to clear the spectrum until the end of 2013 and Ofcom needs to go through a massive process [with 4G] as it will get sued by telcos if it doesn’t get it right. So, if you are looking at what is delaying it, it is not Ofcom it is the telecom companies.”
It’s not news to anyone following the UK telecoms industry, but Vaizey’s words have been picked up by a wider audience at the FES event and shown just how much the UK really is being left behind when it comes to mobile communications. LTE is becoming ever more widespread and just today it was announced that O2 has launched LTE in the Czech Republic. I imagine that some visitors to London for the Olympics will be surprised to find that there’s not LTE in London.
It seems the best hope is still the announcement by Everything Everywhere that it would launch by the end of 2012 using its spare 1800MHz capacity, which doesn’t require any of that spectrum clearing. Here’s hoping it goes ahead, and that Ofcom has the cojones to let it happen, regardless of the legal threats.