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April 19, 2012updated 23 Aug 2016 2:57pm

Report: Three quarters of UK want 4G ASAP

Three quarters of Britons are sick of waiting for 4G mobile networks to launch in the UK.

By Allan Swann

Three quarters of Britons are sick of waiting for 4G mobile networks to launch in the UK.

New research by carried out by YouGov and Everything Everywhere (owners of the T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks) showed that 74% of those surveyed wanted 4G to launch as soon as possible.

The United Kingdom is already years behind most other developed countries (and some third world countries) in its 4G rollout, a problem Ofcom claims is due to the UK’s ‘unique circumstances‘.

This week saw Freeview finally move out of the spectrum allocated for 4G on the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz bands, meaning that spectrum can be auctioned to the telcos later in the year.

Despite the endless Ofcom delays to the 4G auction, Everything, Everywhere has decided it is ready to go now and has applied to Ofcom to operate a 4G network on its existing 1800Mhz spectrum.

Last year Ofcom ruled that 2G spectrum (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) could be used for 3G, as part of plans to liberalise spectrum use – this included 4G use to meet the growing demand from internet connected devices such as smartphones and laptops. EE has boosted its 4G infrastructure spend to £1.5b and, in partnership with BT, has been testing around the country since September.

Ofcom has tentatively said yes to Everything, Everywhere’s proposal, but submissions from rival companies are ongoing, pending a final ruling at the end of the month.

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Everything Everywhere maintains that the YouGov research is independent.

Everything Everywhere and YouGov’s research also has found that 82% those surveyed said that new technology such as 4G networks is vital for Britain to remain competitive and protect jobs.

"Consumers are calling for the fast and reliable broadband that 4G LTE can provide – and they want it now. With nearly three dozen countries, including many parts of Europe, Asia and America having already rolled out 4G, it is imperative that the UK moves forward with building a 21st century digital infrastructure as soon as possible," said Swantee.

Helen Goodman, Labour’s Shadow Secretary for Media believes that the lack of 4G is costing the country £1m per day.

Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantee announced in February that if given Ofcom’s green light, it 4G could launch before year end.

"I am also very proud to announce that, subject to regulatory approval by the spring, Everything Everywhere will be in a position to begin the roll out of 4G before the end of the year. There is a great opportunity for the UK to have the 21st Century network that it so deserves, putting the nation on a level playing field with other parts of Europe, the USA and Asia," he said.

This would give the company a huge headstart on rivals Three, Vodafone and Telefonica, who are waiting for the 4G auction, and will theoretically start rolling out high speed 4G in 2013.

Even so, many analysts doubt whether the telcos have the finances, or even the will to do so. Click here to read CBR’s special report.

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