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EE To Launch UK’s First 4G Mobile Services

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(Image: Flavio Takemoto)
(Image: Flavio Takemoto)

BUSINESS

  • 4G mobile services to be operational in 16 cities before end of 2012
  • Everything Everywhere to change name to EE
  • UK rivals unhappy with regulator’s “early” approval of EE 4G plans

The United Kingdom’s largest mobile operator, Everything Everywhere, has announced it will launch the nation’s first fourth generation mobile service by the end of the year under the new name EE.

Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and France Telecom’s Orange, says around 20 million mobile phone users in Britain will have access to 4G connections before Christmas.

EE has been testing its 4G services in London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff, and expects the network to be fully operational in 16 cities before 2013.

In August, the company secured itself a big boost over rivals in convincing Ofcom, the regulator and competition authority in the UK, to let it push forward with its 4G services ahead of other operators.

Being the first provider to carry the new Apple iPhone 5 on the superfast 4G network is expected to see the company steal a significant part of the market.

EE branding will appear on new retail outlets as well as the 4G network services package. T-Mobile and Orange, which count some 27 million British users, will continue to operate under their names.

Leading The Way For 4G

CEO Olaf Swantee says EE will be at the forefront of development as the booming smartphone and tablet PC industries continue to drive up demand for higher-speed data connections.

"The networks built last century are too slow to handle the needs of this modern, digital age," Swantee said during a press conference. "We are going to change that."

In addition to the iPhone 5, EE will also offer 4G packages for Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices.

In coming weeks, the company will start offering a new fixed fiber-optic connection and the first 4G services to customers, with data transfer speeds five times quicker than existing mobile networks.

Wireless rivals Vodafone, O2 and 3 have criticized the decision by Ofcom to allow EE to proceed with its 4G services, while their operations have been hampered by delays in buying spread spectrum for the superfast network.

The long-awaited spectrum auctions are scheduled for next year. Major networks have accepted a government proposal not to start legal proceedings to speed up the auction process, a source close to the matter told Reuters news agency.

No details have been released on data connection plans or pricing.

Key Statistics - World 4G Market (source: TechNavio)

  • In 2014, the global market for 4G equipment is forecast to hit nearly $16.5 billion. The market has also been witnessing the emergence of many Chinese players, particularly in the telecommunication sector.
  • The European 4G equipment market is expected to grow at an annual rate of over 57% between 2010 and 2014.
  • The Asia Pacific region is expected to witness annual growth of 63% for the timeframe 2010-2014.

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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