Everything Everywhere – the company behind Orange and T-Mobile – today unveiled plans to launch a 4G mobile phone network in Britain before Christmas.
The superfast mobile speeds achieved through 4G technology will arrive in 16 cities across the UK first, with a nationwide roll-out during 2013, until 98% of Britain is covered by 2014.
At the same time as announcing the launch, Everything Everywhere also re-branded itself to be called EE, although it will still retain the Orange and T-Mobile consumer brands while creating a brand-new one for its superfast services.
EE 4G gets the switch on
In a landmark for the mobile phone industry, the EE 4G network was switched on this morning using LTE technology for both mobile phones and fibre broadband. It is hoped this broadband service will reach more than 11 million people by the end of this year.
Currently the only UK 4G service, EE now has a head start against rivals Vodafone, O2 and Three, after regulator Ofcom granted it the right to use its own existing network space for 4G services.
It will convert frequencies previously used for 2G rather than have to wait for Ofcom to auction off new network space, which is believed to be happening at the end of this year.
Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, said:
“Today we launch a new company, a new network and a new brand for Britain.”
“Our plans to revolutionise the UK communications market with a faster network and an exciting new brand for the digital age are built on solid investment and a simple belief that customers deserve better.”
20 times faster than 3G
Superfast mobile speeds will eventually be up to 20 times faster than current 3G although at the beginning, they are expected to be around seven times faster.
Using 4G broadband can be around 10 times faster than today’s average speeds and means you could download HD movies in minutes.
Already four cities – London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham – have been switched on for testing awaiting a launch to consumers. It is hoped Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton will also be turned on before Christmas.
What do i need to use 4G?
To use 4G, you will need a new mobile. And there are plenty on the horizon, not least the iPhone 5, which experts hope will work on the new EE frequencies after its own expected launch this week.
HTC will also offer the One XL while Huawei have the Ascend P1 LTE and mobile Wi-Fi dongle the E589 with up to 10 hours battery life or the E392 mobile broadband stick.
All Orange and T-Mobile customers will now be switched over slowly to the EE network whether using the new 4G services or the current 3G. The company hope to complete this by the end of the year.
Customers may see a speed improvement on 3G and will know they have transferred when their network indicator reads EE on the phone’s screen.
Matthew Howett, of analysts Ovum, said:
“Behind countries such as Angola, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, Britain has rightly been lamented for being in the slow lane when it comes to 4G mobile services. However that is all set to change.”
“All eyes will be on the company once the roll-out gets under way. For it to be an attractive proposition for consumers it requires a good degree of network coverage, an attractive range of handsets and easy-to-understand pricing.”
“From what we learnt today, EE certainly seems to have done everything right on the first two, but pricing will not be known until the firm launches in a few weeks’ time.”
Kester Mann, of analyst CCS, added:
“With live testing beginning this week and commercial deployment ‘in a number of weeks’, its intention to make London ‘the most 4G European city’ is to be applauded.”
“While it’s made no mention about availability of the iPhone, this better than expected handset availability will inevitably help Everything Everywhere achieve good first mover advantages, drive consumer adoption of the technology and encourage migration of customers to the new brand.”
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