Being based in Britain, it means that sometimes I get to focus on UK related news. With the iPhone it can be difficult, being an American company. This morning I spotted a very worthwhile article over at TNW detailing all us Britons need to know about the iPhone 5′s 4G bands and how that translates to UK compatibility.

We already know that EE (Everything Everywhere) will be the first to offer the 6th generation iPhone on its super-fast cellular network.

What we were unsure of was how it would handle Three, Vodafone and O2′s networks. Turns out it won’t like either of the two biggest networks here. It’s all down to OfCom and how it plans to auction off 4G spectrum.

Everything Everywhere was given the go ahead to switch on its 1800MHz network, which is already beginning and is already live in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff. More cities will be added by the end of the year, with the view to cover 98% of the population by the end of 2014.

As part of its agreement, EE was forced to agree a deal to allow Three to start piggy-backing of its 4G network, which should be starting at the end of 2013. This will give the Orange/T-mobile company a full year’s head start against its competitors.

So, what of Vodafone and O2? The UK’S two biggest network operators will be forced to fight it out over the two remaining bands (unless they pull a co-op deal to share 4G spectrum). The two left are the 2.6GHz and 800MHz bands.

Neither of which are supported by the newest member of the iPhone family. Even when “Red” and “Blue” do get the go ahead to push the big red button, they’ll not be able to sell the iPhone 5 as a 4G device. But, by that time the iPhone 6 will probably be out, and hopefully supporting more bands.

What’s Ofcom’s decision in aid of? Personally, I think it’s a good thing. Vodafone and O2 are the UK’s biggest networks. T-mobile and Orange are to Voda and O2 what Sprint and Tmo are to AT&T and Verizon in the States.

On the sheer numbers scale, neither of them competes with the big two. Together, as EE and with the chance to establish itself as the first 4G network, it stands a fighting chance of competing. Competition is good for the consumer, i.e., me and you. We’ll benefit in the long run.

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