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Ofcom extends Everything Everywhere 4G consultation

The regulator bows to pressure from rival operators, extending the consultation period to 8 May.

Ofcom has extended the consultation period for its review of Everything Everywhere's 4G plans after rival providers pushed for more time to get their complaints in.

The plan for Everything Everywhere to use its existing spectrum allocation for 4G services has caused uproar in the mobile industry, with O2 and Vodafone saying it would give the company a partnership of Orange and T-Mobile an unfair advantage.

Ofcom has already claimed it sees no harm to competition by allowing the change in purpose for the 1800 MHz spectrum for either WiMAX or Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies, after a European Commission ruling said both 900 MHz and 1800 MHz should be freed up for this purpose.

However, it would lead to Everything Everywhere getting a time advantage. The company would be bringing 4G to the UK straight away, whilst other operators would be made to wait until the spectrum auction later this year, with deployment time coming as late as 2013 or even 2014.

"If we were to vary EE's [Everything Everywhere's] licence now, it would be likely to be the only entity capable of providing LTE/WiMAX services on a national basis for a period of time," read the Ofcom report, released late yesterday.

"We do not consider that any material risk of distortion to competition will arise if we vary EE's licence as requested. Nonetheless, to the extent that any such risk might arise, we have gone on to assess whether there would be any objectively justifiable, proportionate, non-discriminatory and transparent measures which would address such risk."

After pressure from other operators, however, it has extended the deadline for this consultation from 17 April to 8 May, giving more time for the likes of Vodafone and O2 to make their complaints.

The confirmation of the extension didn't give much away, however.

"We have decided to extend this period following requests from stakeholders for more time to respond," read a statement from the regulator.

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