U.K. regulator Ofcom will meet later today with mobile operators and the British government's Culture Secretary Maria Miller in an effort to prevent any legal challenges to the 4G auction process, reports the BBC. Operators Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2) and Vodafone UK are unhappy about Ofcom's recent decision that effectively gives rival Everything Everywhere (EE) nearly a full year's head start to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the country using its existing 1800MHz spectrum. But according to the BBC report, Ofcom will discuss today an option to bring forward the auction and spectrum allocation process so that operators could launch services in May or June next year, which is about six months ahead of the current schedule. If a deal is reached tonight, then EE will be able to announce its LTE service launch date, which could be before the end of this month, adds the report. (See Euronews: EE 4G Plan Gets Thumbs-Up and Euronews: Orange/T-Mob JV Given 4G Head Start.)
Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has got its checkbook out in Ireland, buying enterprise IT services firm Complete Telecom , reports the Irish Examiner. Complete Telecom has a headcount of 23 and claims around 300 customers in Ireland.
Iran's authorities have lifted the restrictions they imposed on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s search engine and webmail service, though the block on YouTube remains in place, BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) has won a managed services deal with British American Tobacco valued at more than US$100 million. BT will manage the company's global wide-area network infrastructure, which spans nearly 1,000 sites in 119 countries. Smokin'!
Skype Ltd. has partnered with Wi-Fi equipment supplier Wicoms to offer a new service called "Free Skype WiFi" at participating venues and retailers in the U.K. and Ireland. The service will allow Skype users to access free Wi-Fi using their Skype IDs. (See Skype Launches Free Wi-Fi.)
A survey conducted for music streaming service WiMP appears to show that more people are prepared to pay for their streaming, particularly in Sweden, for some reason. In the land of Abba, Ace of Base and The Stomachmouths (no, me neither), 36 percent of folk asked say they are prepared to hit that "subscribe" button.