A 4G Pig's Ear



7:20 AM -- Even after more than a decade of living in England as an American expat, I'm still delighted by British vernacular: "dog's dinner," "pig's ear," "donkey's years," "gormless," "faffing around" are some of my personal favorites.

And those are the idioms that spring to mind now as I read about the latest development in the U.K.'s 4G auction saga. (See Britain's Bloomin' LTE .)

Ofcom has reportedly extended the deadline for operators to respond to its proposal that would let EE use its existing 1800MHz spectrum for LTE services this year.

An Ofcom spokesman confirmed to Light Reading Mobile that the original deadline was April 17, but it has been changed to May 8 because some stakeholders requested more time to respond. (See Ofcom Considers UK LTE Short Cut.)

The big worry now is that this three-week extension introduces further delay to the LTE spectrum auction that is planned for the end of this year. Ofcom and operators will have to resolve the Everything Everywhere issue before the 4G auction can take place.

In effect, Ofcom's current proposal would give a head start in the LTE market to Everything Everywhere -- the joint venture of Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) that is the U.K.'s largest mobile operator with more than 27 million subscribers -- ahead of the 4G auction. Not unreasonably, and rather predictably, rival operators Three UK , Telefónica UK Ltd. and Vodafone UK are not happy about it.

So, to use the common parlance here, Ofcom has been faffing around with the 4G auction for so long now that the whole thing has become a dog's dinner and it will be donkey's years before the U.K. ever gets widely available LTE services. (See Europe Set for LTE Laggard Status.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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