Orange chief backs early 4G rollout

Wednesday, May 2nd 2012
The early deployment of 4G could be a key differentiator for Everything Everywhere, Jean-Pierre Bienaime has said.
Orange chief backs early 4G rollout
The proposed early rollout of 4G mobile broadband services in the UK by Everything Everywhere (EE) would give the network operator an edge over its rivals, according to a senior executive at Orange.

Jean-Pierre Bienaime, senior vice president of strategy and communications for Orange and chairman of the UMTS Forum, told he is hopeful the plan to allow EE to deploy the technology before the end of this year will be approved.

"In the UK it could be an advantage, before the other ones [operators]. It could be a good differentiator," he explained.

Ofcom has given provisional backing to the proposal, which could see EE launch 4G mobile broadband infrastructure several months earlier than its competitors by re-using some of its existing spectrum.

No other UK operator currently has sufficient suitable spectrum to support 4G.

According to Ofcom, the move would bring material benefits to consumers in the form of faster mobile broadband speeds and potentially wider coverage in rural areas.

The regulator also insisted that it would not distort competition in the mobile market and said it is "mindful" to allow the early rollout to go ahead.

However, rival networks O2 and Vodafone have expressed their opposition to the move, arguing that it would give EE an unfair head-start.

For its part, EE has claimed public opinion is on its side, with a study published last month showing that 74 per cent of consumers want 4G to be deployed as soon as possible.

Two-thirds said they believe it is important for the UK to remain competitive and catch up with other countries, while more than half (58 per cent) simply stated that they want faster broadband speeds.

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, commented: "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."

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