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Everything Everywhere Agrees To Sell 4G Spectrum To Three

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Three will have 4G services… sometime in 2013

Everything Everywhere has announced it will sell spectrum to Three, which could be used to deliver 4G services.

The news  followed Ofcom’s announcement that Everything Everywhere would be allowed to offer 4G services on its 1800MHz spectrum.  Now, in accordance with an EU ruling, some of that spectrum will be sold to Three, who can eventually use it to offer 4G services.

No 4G on Three for a year?

The agreement covers two 15MHz channels in Everything Everywhere’s 1800MHz spectrum, and will take some time to clear.

“Ofcom and the European Commission will review whether the divestment satisfies the merger commitments, and a response is expected within the next three months,” said a statement from Everything Everywhere.

But sources close to the deal told TechWeekEurope that the regulatory approval, the technical issues associated with the handover and EE’s potential unwillingness to let go of the spectrum early could add up to a delay of at least a year. That means Three users may not get 4G services on this spectrum till at least September 2013, when EE is required to hand over a portion of the 1800MHz spectrum it has to relinquish.

“We will rollout once spectrum is cleared,” a Three spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. Everything Everywhere did not say when it would hand over the spectrum if approval is given.

The spectrum transfer was required by the European Commission, as a condition of the merger between T-Mobile UK and Orange, which formed Everything Everywhere.  “As part of the commitments given when the European Commission approved the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK in March 2010, Everything Everywhere was required to divest 2X15MHz of its 1800 MHz spectrum,” EE said.

There had been speculation that BSKyB might attempt to buy the spectrum that EE had to sell, but Three has always been the frontrunner. As a telecoms provider created using 3G spectrum and predicated on selling data services, Three has to move into 4G or else lose the whole point of its existence.

Vodafone and O2 have not yet issued use with any comment on the news.

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