EE to launch 4G mobile services in 16 UK cities in 2012

 

Rory Cellan-Jones tests out 4G at the news conference

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The UK's first fourth generation (4G) mobile service will launch in 16 UK cities before the end of the year.

Everything Everywhere, which will now be known as just EE, will continue the rollout into the new year, and aims to provide 4G to 98% of the UK by 2014.

4G coverage in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol is currently being tested ahead of launching in "weeks".

Rivals have voiced concerns that EE had been given an unfair headstart by launching first.

Other cities to get the high-speed connectivity are Belfast, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.

'Spout unstoppably'

Analysis

The news that 4G will be available in 16 cities by Christmas will be seen as good for the UK which has already fallen behind other countries in terms of next generation mobile.

But rivals to Everything Everywhere will be hopping mad that the firm has been allowed a head start while they must wait until the airwaves auction next year.

Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere is as keen to promote its new EE brand as the 4G network it will run.

Chief executive Olaf Swantee admitted he had never loved the clunky Everything Everywhere moniker although he refused to sound the death knell for Orange and T-Mobile as individual brands.

But all existing T-Mobile and Orange shops across the country will be rebranded EE in due course.

Consumers of course won't care how it is branded - as long as it delivers faster, better services.

4G mobile technology will mean all of these locations will benefit from improved network access speeds, even indoors.

Speaking at the event, London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "I barely understand it, but information will spout unstoppably from these gizmos.

"It will bring huge advantages to anyone living or working in London."

Further rollout could prove a boon to rural areas where fixed line broadband speeds are poor.

EE will offer several handsets to use with the service. Within the year, these will be Samsung's Galaxy S III LTE; HTC's One XL and Huawei's Ascend P1 LTE.

The company will also offer Nokia's Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 - the latter of which the company has as an exclusive deal.

In addition, other devices will be launched to allow customers to connect existing equipment - such as a laptop - to the 4G network.

"4G will bring a more reliable connection," EE chief executive Olaf Swantee told the BBC.

"When you see that it can do so much more than the current network, people will have a great appetite for it."

The use of 4G will create a huge demand for data, he said - meaning networks would need to be updated.

"Our networks can cope for now but they are not future-proofed."

EE logo on website The 4G launch is coupled with the company's rebrand into simply "EE"

However, he refused to be drawn on media reports that Ofcom had brokered a peace deal between operators who were said to be angry at EE's early access to the 4G spectrum.

But he did say that threats of legal action were shortsighted.

"Stop using lawyers. We need to move on and get 4G infrastructure in place."

Legal wrangle

EE won permission to launch 4G services in an Ofcom ruling published on 21 August. In November 2011 it asked Ofcom for permission to run the high-speed data services over part of the radio spectrum it already uses for earlier generation technologies.

Start Quote

There are still important questions to be answered. What will customers have to pay for the service and when will it reach those rural areas that may need it more than the towns?”

End Quote

Rival networks are being forced to wait to launch their 4G services as they do not have any spare spectrum to use.

All operators will get a chance to buy spectrum to support 4G in 2013 when Ofcom runs an auction to divide up the radio frequencies reserved for these services.

The threat of legal action has delayed the auction and led to the UK trailing many other nations that already have fast-speed 4G services up and running.

The day after EE's launch, Apple is holding an event at which it is thought to be unveiling the next version of its iPhone.

This will also be able to handle 4G but it is not yet clear if it will work on the frequencies that EE's early services will use.

 

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  • rate this
    +41

    Comment number 149.

    I actually find it disgusting that offcom are allowing one company to provide 4G before others- I thought they were supposed to prevent monopolies like this? They are allowing EE to have the opportunity to steal customers from other providers whilst providing said customers with contracts for any price or length they like. Pointless even funding something like offcom.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 148.

    hmm... "interesting" timing ahead of the new iphone launch.

    Those complaining about rural access have my sympathy, but you have to test in high volume areas where most of your customers are based.

  • rate this
    +24

    Comment number 147.

    Everything Everywhere is a bit of a misnomer when it is only 16 cities - how much of the working population of the UK will that cover?

    You only need to live 10 miles out and the current network is not firt for purpose.

    EVERYBODY should have come before Everthing Everywhere.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 146.

    134.fallingTP
    If they don't like it they can move into town.
    Touch of the "Im all right Jack" seems a bit selfish to me.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 145.

    Back in 1993, myself and the late Prof J.G.L.Rhodes developed at MEDL in Lincoln, a millimetre wave distribution system fully capable of providing broad-band internet capability anywhere in the country at resonable cost, without the limitations of a tree'd cable system. With improvements in device technology this would now be much cheaper and faster than any feasible cabled system.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 144.

    More rubbish even quicker, if you desire.

    Just imagine trying to be involved in someone elses life quicker than before, rather than your own.

    Go technology!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 143.

    @Mick

    Rural areas pay slightly more. A LOT more for unlimited, if you can even get it. Sky sub off of BT, so we fall out of their 'network'. We're stuck with BT, or a BT resold line with same limitations/ridiculous prices. At one point we were getting charged £80pm for a 6 meg down/444k up connection. So please tell me how we're equal again.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 142.

    Great!
    Now I can use up my monthly 1GB limit several times quicker and get charged more, rather unwittingly due to all the bloatware that comes on my Android phone. It just sits in the background, quietly sending data, so much so that my data connection gets turned off when I am not using it.
    Will be interested to see how this helps me pick up plain text emails any quicker....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 141.

    Regarding the point that 'all the big cities have fibre optic broadband' etc - I live in the centre of Manchester and we don't have it. Poor show I say. Good news about 4G though. Fingers crossed the new iPhone will run on this network!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 140.

    In "theory" because the new frequencies 4G will be on when they get auctioned off are much more transmission friendly rural areas ARE more likely to get a benefit from them, remember these frequencies are the old analog TV frequencies and most people could get TV coverage. this EE launch is just a gimic as uk 4G phones wont be designed to carry 4G on existing 2g and 3g frequencies.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 139.

    Orange have recently dismantled the 2g tower supplying our village. We have gone from full signal to signal. How about filling in the gaps before giving more to those that already have?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 138.

    Only a matter of weeks then, before someone complains 4G is giving them headaches, impotency, draining their IQ and doubtless causing brain tumours, and the person sitting immediately next to them claiming the exact opposite.

  • Comment number 137.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 136.

    On goody, gain a costly mobile service, so users can watch HD TV and films on their tiny mobile phone screens. Lose Free View digital television reception to 4G mobile interference. I am glad 4G is going to the cities first, it will be interesting to see how many users are willing to pay and pay and pay.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 135.

    Has anyone posting here from rural areas with lousy broadband services tried satellite broadband? I'm thinking of ditching BT for this service, which will cost about the same as I'm paying BT, but I've been told can give me 12mb download speeds. Anyone got anything good/bad/indifferent to say about their experiences wth this service?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 134.

    "commercially viable in rural area's unless"

    If they don't like it they can move into town. Seems you expect the best of both worlds and demand that your rural ideal to be maintained at the expense of others. You wish to shut out interlopers and protect your amenity values at any cost (e.g. Campaign to Protect Rural England) yet expect these same people to subsidise your existence.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 133.

    As long as it is 4G and not G4, then we should all be OK!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 132.

    79.drhowells
    You launch with a large populace initially, to eliminate any issues, then roll out to other areas
    Unfortunately the reality is that they dont roll out to rural areas. Perhaps they should do it the other way round.

  • rate this
    +88

    Comment number 131.

    Do something first for the huge numbers of us who can't access a mobile signal at all, and whose broadband connection is slower than the old dial-up. I live just 6 miles from Cambridge but have no mobile signal at home at all, let alone 3G. My broadband is even worse - download speeds of 0.5Mbps and pitiful upload speeds. Mobile technology is fantastic, but the infrastructure is dreadful!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 130.

    I agree with 65.Fiona k. I work for a smaller ISP, we supply a lot of rural locations (Just), I can tell you, there's still a LOT of areas that can only just get GPRS or EDGE not even 3G, in large towns there are 3G Not Spots. The Main Operators need to put more profits they make (enormous) back into Rural Broadband and 3G first, as for Government Initiative, its' not working? WiMax, what happened

 

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