Belfast Telegraph

4G for mobiles could be launched within weeks

By Jamie Grierson

Crunch talks are being held between mobile phone operators and regulators in a move that could result in superfast 4G services being launched within weeks.

Orange and T-Mobile owner EE will receive the nod to launch its 4G products and services by October 30 if Ofcom agrees to make remaining airspace available to other operators sooner than planned.

This may prompt rivals - such as Vodafone and O2 owner Telefonica, who were angered that EE was given permission to launch the 4G services first - to abandon plans for a legal challenge.

Clearing the airwaves ready for use earlier would allow other operators to offer their services by May next year, rather than October 2013.

EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, last month unveiled its plans to make the country's first state-of-the-art 4G services available to some 20 million people in 16 cities by Christmas.

EE said it will offer 4G to customers by Christmas in Belfast, London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.

The group then plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70% and rising to 98% in 2014.

The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the web on the go, high definition movies to be downloaded in minutes and TV to be streamed without buffering.

EE's 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on Apple's iPhone 5, HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices.