You won't have to wait for the 4G auction and subsequent roll-out if you're really desperate for a 4G phone.
UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has given Everything Everywhere, parent company of T-Mobile UK and Orange, the green light to roll out its 4G LTE network in September. This means the UK will actually get its first taste of 4G before the big spectrum auction, which is set to take place at the end of the year (the 4G roll-out is scheduled for 2013).
Earlier this year, Everything Everywhere recently submitted an application to the telecoms watchdog asking permission to reuse some of its existing 1800MHz spectrum to deliver 4G services. Ofcom has approved that application, announcing that it has issued varied licenses to Everything Everywhere that authorise LTE services from September 11, 2012. This means that Everything Everywhere can launch LTE services using its 1800 MHz spectrum at any point from that date.
Ofcom said that following a consultation, it had concluded that varying the company's 1800 MHz licenses now would be of significant benefit to consumers and that there is 'no material risk' that those benefits would be outweighed by a distortion of competition. Naturally, other networks seem to be having a hard time seeing it that way. According to Pocket-Lint, Vodafone has said it's "frankly shocked" by Ofcom's decision. The company says Ofcom has shown "a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy" in allowing one operator to go ahead and offer 4G services before the industry is ready for a competitive market. O2 says it is "hugely disappointed" in the decision. Meanwhile, despite initially expressing misgivings about the whole situation, Three has turned things around and acquired some of Everything Everywhere's spectrum. This will allow the company to jump on the 4G bandwagon before the auction takes place.