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Orange To Launch 4G Networks Across EU By 2015

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Orange makes commitment to roll out 4G, NFC and reduce carbon emissions to the EU in Brussels

Orange has pledged to introduce 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) to all of the European Union markets it currently serves by 2015.

The commitment was one of many made to the EU and Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda as the mobile operator also promised to accelerate the rollout of Near Field Communication (NFC) smartphones and reduce carbon emissions.

European ambitions

“We welcome the EU decision to make more spectrum available, in a timely and harmonised manner, to wireless services in the EU, and look forward to further, similar initiatives to help us cope with the massive growth in public data use,” said Orange. “Europe could do a great deal to promote a more favourable environment for the roll-out of radio access networks.”

The European Union has already told member states that they must free up spectrum for LTE networks by 2013, while Sweden, Finland and Germany already have 4G services.

The company also said that it was going to introduce three million SIM-based NFC devices to European customers in 2012 and a further 10 million in 2013. It also has plans to improve energy efficiency and wants to decrease its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020. This will be partly achieved by offering consumer cloud services from green data centres in Europe.

Orange’s UK operations merged with those of T-Mobile to form Everything Everywhere (EE) in 2010 and in October last year, the two companies began to combine their 3G networks to boost coverage. However last week, EE was granted permission to deploy a 4G network on its existing spectrum, meaning that it could be the first UK operator to launch a commercial LTE service.

This has angered rival Vodafone as EE would get a head start over its competitors as the perpetually delayed auction for 4G spectrum is unlikely to take place until later this year. Ofcom had previously said ahead of a second consultation into the auction that Everything Everywhere would not receive reserved spectrum as had been previously indicated.

The technical problems and pressure from networks that have resulted in the delays have led to Ofcom warning that 4G networks may not be available in the UK for another four years.

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