Everything Everywhere Ready to Unleash 4G on the UK

on Sep 24, 2012

Everything Everywhere, the mobile operator formed from the merger of France Telecom’s Orange and Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile, has decided to respond to the long-standing criticism of its cumbersome title and rebrand as “EE”. The new and shiny EE will continue to act as the umbrella brand for T-Mobile and Orange but will also separately offer the first 4G network in the UK.

In August, EE was granted permission by UK regulatory authority Ofcom to roll out the next generation of 4G services on its 1800MHz bandwidth. This is an exclusive deal for EE, which has been installing the necessary equipment since the beginning of the year and has managed to cover some major population centres. All other mobile operators will have to wait until after an auction of lower end 4G frequency spectrums and many of them have voiced their dissatisfaction with Ofcom’s decision.

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!m[](/uploads/story/446/thumbs/pic1_inline.png)“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market.” said a Vodafone UK spokesman.

Ofcom acknowledged the fact that EE will gain a short-term competitive advantage but concluded that, according to the evidence it gathered, there will be no “enduring advantage which distorts competition to the detriment of consumers”.
The 4G network will give consumers transmission and download speeds five to seven times faster than 3G, meaning that movie and album capture will take only a few minutes. EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee asserts that implementation of the 4G network in the UK will “enable Britain to become a more modern and digital country, better connected with itself, its neighbours and the world.”

With 35 other countries already 4G functional, Britain is far behind in the race. For that reason and also of course the undoubted social and economic benefits a 4G network offers, the government has prioritised its introduction.
Yet the auctioning off of 4G low-frequency spectrums has been stalled since 2008, mainly because of
argument over how it’s to be structured. The sale is finally expected to happen at the end of this year and could potentially raise £3 – £4.5 billion for the government’s coffers – a tidy sum, albeit much less than the £22 billion generated by the 3G frequencies auction in 2000.

EE has promised that the 4G network in Britain will be the fastest in the world and that it’ll be available to the entire population by 2014. By Christmas this year there will be 16 cities with coverage: together with the major metros of London, Manchester and Liverpool in England, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland and Cardiff in Wales, key regional urban areas will be covered, notably Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Southampton, Belfast, Hull, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and Derby.
Handset manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung and HTC are ready to launch 4G devices immediately and Apple’s latest incarnation released last week – the iPhone 5 – has the 4G technology on board.
For now it seems EE has quite an edge on its competitors, with the only concern expressed by analysts being how the company plans to manage its three inhouse mobile operators without confusing its customer base. But according to Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa Telecoms & Media , the EE 4G network will be viewed as a premium service for heavy mobile Internet users, T-Mobile will capture the more cost-conscious pre-paid customers and Orange will mainly be associated with its special offers such as the Orange Wednesday.


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