Vodafone in row with Everything Everywhere over 4G Britain

Vodafone in row with Everything Everywhere over 4G Britain
4GBritain launched to support 4G deployment

A move by Orange and T-Mobile to promote the benefits of 4G networks has caused ire with rival carrier Vodafone.

Everything Everywhere, parent company of Orange and T-Mobile, has launched 4GBritain.org in order to promote the benefits of the ultra-fast connection service, stating it will add £75 billion to the economy by the end of the decade.

However, accusations have been levelled at the not-for-profit initiative, stating that it's merely a front for Everything Everywhere to gain a competitive advantage in the 4G space.


The move led to Vodafone being asked to join the set up, but the big red network told TechRadar it responded with a rejection:

"Thank you for your offer to become involved with 4G Britain but as we have only just been informed of it we've not been given the detailed information needed to fully understand the intention behind it.

"Rest assured that Vodafone is very excited by the prospect of bringing 4G services to Britain not least because we have already launched this technology in several other markets. We have made it clear on many occasions that we believe a competitive market for 4G services will bring real benefits to consumers, businesses and the wider British economy.

"We're already asking the Government and regulator to make sure that everyone can launch this technology as soon as possible. We strongly believe that a competitive market for 4G services – as exists in other European markets – is in the best interests of everyone."

Since then Vodafone has also commented to Gizmodo UK on the allocation of the 4G spectrum - believing that Everything Everywhere is moving in a direction that will block it, and other networks, ability to create a viable 4G network for the UK:

"EE's claim that today's operators can also launch 4G services [subject to a willingness to invest and a variation to their licence] conveniently forgets that EE controls over 83% of all mobile spectrum in the frequency band that Ofcom is considering to vary.

"Other operators are using their more limited spectrum holdings to serve current customers so they cannot clear it as quickly as EE. Therefore, we believe the introduction of 4G should be linked to the availability of suitable amounts of cleared spectrum for other players."

However, Everything Everywhere has since been in contact to contest Vodafone's claim of 83% network share - as part of the condition of the Orange and T-Mobile merger, it has to sell off 25% of its spectrum to give other networks a greater slice of the pie, giving it 63% share once the sale is complete.

"One of the conditions of the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK was that Everything Everywhere divest a quarter of its 1800MHz spectrum before the next spectrum auctions. The intention is to complete the sale of the spectrum in advance of the Combined Spectrum Award, currently scheduled to take place in Q4 2012," explained an Everything Everywhere spokesperson.

Deployment ahoy

The current issue revolves around the fact Everything Everywhere currently has enough spectrum (the licensed frequency bands with which it can broadcast the 4G signal) to begin deployment of the super-fast speeds.

This is still subject to ratification from Ofcom, which has yet to announce the dates the remaining networks – O2, Vodafone and Three – can bid for the rest of the spectrum which has been partly freed up by the switching off of the analogue TV signal in the UK.

Everything Everywhere claims the 4GBritain campaign is designed to speed up that process by lobbying to get the auctions happening as soon as possible, refuting the claims it is trying to gain a competitive advantage.

Disclaimer: TechRadar, and Future Publishing's other technology sites Gizmodo UK and T3, have signed up to the campaign, as we believe it is in the consumer's best interests to gain access to 4G networks in the UK as soon as possible, regardless of the carrier that brings it - a decision we believe should be left to the communications watchdog Ofcom.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.