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Vaizey: Network operators holding up 4G rollout

Communications minister hits out at litigiousness of network operators for holding up 4G deployments.

Broadband

Communications minister Ed Vaizey claims the rollout of 4G networks are being held up by litigiousness of mobile network providers.

Speaking at Intellect's Future of Entertainment conference in central London yesterday, the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, said the Government's 4G spectrum auction should take place by the end of the year.

If you want to complain about the delay, don't look at Ofcom or the Government.

However, he acknowledged that some businesses and consumers would like to see faster progress being made.

"It is worth remembering, for those who ask why it's taking so long [to launch 4G]...Ofcom has to undergo an exhaustive consultation process, because every single mobile phone company has threatened to sue Ofcom if they don't get it right," said Vaizey.

"If you want to complain about the delay, don't look at Ofcom or the Government. Stop your nearest mobile phone operator and ask them what's causing [it]."

Vaizey also used the keynote to commend the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for reopening its investigation into Google Street View, and the work it has done to help businesses get to grips with the internet cookie laws.

"Businesses [say they haven't been given] enough direction in how to implement [measures to comply with the cookie laws] when our whole approach has been as flexible as possible to let you come up with a solution that suits your business," said Vaizey.

"If we introduced an inflexible set of regulations that you had to comply with, you would be coming through my door, complaining they were too restrictive.

"The flexibility is there for you and the ICO is there to help, not treat you like a you're a criminal trying to evade regulations," he said.

Connected economy

The importance of 4G to the UK economy was the topic of a keynote by Olaf Swantee, chief executive of mobile operator Everything Everywhere, at another event in London earlier this week.

He told delegates that 4G networks are already being used by 34 countries across the globe, and reaffirmed his company's commitment to helping the UK catch up.

"Today's infrastructure is not future proof. It can handle today's requirements, but [with mobile data use increasing] it will be very hard [to maintain that] in the next couple of years."

Everything Everywhere will plough 1.5bn into supporting the rollout of 4G networks in the UK, said Swantee.

"The UK economy is more dependent on the internet than any other in world," he explained.

"Thirty four countries have already rolled out 4G, but they do not have the same user profile [in terms of how reliant they are on mobile data] as the UK," he added.

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