Culture Secretary to hold 4G peace talks with telcos

Minister hopes to break legal deadlock that threatens UK 4G rollout.

Selection of smartphones

Culture Secretary Maria Miller is to host peace talks' between the major mobile phone operators to help put an end to the years of legal wrangling over the rollout of 4G networks in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed reports about the proposed mini summit and told IT Pro a meeting will be taking place tomorrow evening.

Miller is said to want a "comprehensive armistice" between O2, Vodafone, Three, and EE (Everything Everywhere), according to a report in The Sunday Times.

Miller hopes an accord between the firms will speed up the deployment of 4G networks in the UK.

The talks follow years of squabbling between the four firms. Most recently, O2 was said to be considering legal action against EE after it was granted permission to recycle some of its existing spectrum to roll out 4G in the UK.

Sources close to the negotiations told IT Pro they welcomed anything that brought forward the auction, as each day without 4G is a disadvantage to the consumer.

A further source said they hoped the negotiations would put an end to the cycle of litigation, and that - if successful - the network auction could take place in spring 2013.

Rob Bamforth, an analyst at market watcher Quocirca, told IT Pro: "If this does bring the auction forward it is good news, as it will bring more open competition and innovation to the industry.

"However, it remains to be seen if this really will result in telcos reaching for their engineers rather than reaching for their lawyers."

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