PCCW looking to build UK’s first LTE network

HOng Kong's PCCW could be the first to launch LTE infrastructure in the UK, using refarmed Wimax spectrum

The UK’s incumbent mobile networks could be beaten to the LTE punch by Hong Kong based telecoms company PCCW, according to a report in the Financial Times. The operator is looking to build out an LTE network as early as 2012, the report states, via its British subsidiary UK Broadband. The network would then be made available on a wholesale basis for MVNOs.

“It is the company’s intention to launch a 4G service. We are currently working with our vendors to finalise the equipment offering on our spectrum. And we are finalising our network planning and our business plans,” Nicholas James, chief executive of UK Broadband told the Financial Times.

Last year PCCW picked up all the UK’s Wimax spectrum licenses after a £12.5m cash purchase of Freedom4, operated by the Daisy Group, and plans to use the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz frequencies for LTE.

The reports states that UK Broadband has been in discussion with Virgin Media, the UK’s largest MVNO. It would be something of a surprise should Virgin launch LTE in the UK first, ahead of networks such as Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere and 3. The latter is part of the Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate that is owned by the Li Ka-Shing, the father of PCCW’s owner Richard Li.

The incumbent networks will be able to launch their LTE networks once they have acquired spectrum, with the UK auctions scheduled for early 2013. Recently, O2 was publically critical of Ofcom’s spectrum floor auction limitations, stating that it believed it was illegal under European law.

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