Engineers complete 4G spectrum works

Last TV signals on 4G spectrum have been moved five months ahead of schedule

One of the last major hurdles to rolling out 4G across the UK has been completed five months ahead of its original deadline.

Engineers have been working for the last couple of years to move services out of the spectrum that will be used by 4G operators. They are expected to sign off on work in some of the remotest parts of the UK later this week.

Around 270 transmitters need to be realigned to free up the radio spectrum for mobile operators to use to provide 4G services. The engineers completed the work in the north-east of Scotland and the Western Isles five months ahead of schedule.

Despite completing their work ahead of schedule, only EE has a commercially operating 4G network. The other mobile operators with 4G licences are yet to announce launch dates for their own services.

EE launched its 4G service in October last year. It operates on some of the 1800MHz spectrum that it previously used for its 2G services.

Last week, the company announced that it had expanded its 4G service to 95 towns and cities or around 60 per cent of the UK’s population. It added that another 687,000 people had signed up to its 4G services.

The other networks bought parts of the spectrum set aside for 4G services in February.

They have accused EE of having an unfair advantage. However, despite that, none of them appear to be in a rush to launch their own 4G networks.

One analyst believes EE’s head start is what is causing the other networks to delay their own rollouts.

Speaking to the BBC, Marek Pawlowski from the PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence consultancy said that EE’s high prices have created a perception within the UK market that 4G is very expensive.

“EE’s launch prices were punitive and put quite a lot of people off, which has prevented it from achieving the momentum it could have done,” he said.

“The user research we’ve done also suggests few people have seen a tangible benefit. In areas where there isn’t much population density the network doesn’t exist and in the areas where it is deployed the fact that there are so many people using it means you are unlikely to get the speeds 4G is capable of delivering.”