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'


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

    Comment number 389.

    387.Dennis Gabb
    2 Minutes ago

    Where is Canterbury in the list. Still it is to be expected they already have the honour of having the worst 3G signals and also Broadband


    If you think Canterbury has worst broadband service in the UK you need to get out more.

    I suggest you start in deepest Cornwall or rural North Wales.

  • rate this

    Comment number 388.

    Those who are making the 'cities are more profitable' argument are right to a degree, but we are mainly discussing a technology that used with mobile devices. While there is more demand in urban areas, people expect to get decent coverage in most areas. With 3G, this isn't even the case in urban areas (not to mention to overcapacity use).

  • Comment number 387.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 386.

    I hope that Vodaphone will not be allowed to benefit from this until it has paid off the tax it was corruptly allowed to avoid. There should be a further penalty, say, to ensure that there is better coverage for rural areas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 385.

    4g is going to be amazing and EE have put lot of money into this millions of pounds, where the other network providers haven't bothered about this. so i feel that they have done nothing wrong in getting 4g before other network...

  • rate this

    Comment number 384.

    379.Ken B

    Protip: don't use that, get Microsoft's FREE Security Essentials and maybe another FREE firewall tool, there's plenty out there.

    What BT gives you (as a tie-in) is bound to be rubbish. McAfee & Symantec have been known for years to be bloated garbage.

    If you wish to pay I suggest good Czech & German software like AVG or Avira.

    n00bs just don't know. Good luck!

  • rate this

    Comment number 383.

    We are a tiny, mostly flat country yet we are not fully covered by an adequate broadband network let alone 3G. And where we are, we are being ripped off by inflated prices.

    We should be ensuring the whole country is connected fully and cheaply before looking at 4G for those who live in cities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 382.

    I'm tired of these people talking about rural area's, fact is there's not alot of money to be made by telecoms companies in small area's with low population

  • rate this

    Comment number 381.

    And what gives people the right to pass radio waves through my body without my consent?

  • rate this

    Comment number 380.

    I'd be happy just to get 2G on my phone. The only thing I can do with my phone is make phone calls. They would be better spending the money to make sure everyone can get at least 3G before upgrading to the latest thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 379.

    With BT virus package is rubbish MacAfee knocks the internet out and freezes laptop when scanning ; rang help desk nothing they can do tough !! buy your own !! as usual btoadband providers promise the earth and infact deliver nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 378.

    Far Eastern countries like South Korea are blazing the trail in fibre optics, whilst this country has HUGE areas who are lucky to get 1mb DSL transfer speeds.

    If the government & ISP's don't invest in infrastructure we will be lost in the technological age.


  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    Since 4G is just going to be used primarily for toys (or so-called smart phones) and so is hardly an "essential" but a luxury good then one company getting a lead over the others is unimportant. Those on other networks will just have to wait so they mess about on social networking sites, play games and watch videos on really small screens whilst paying through the nose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    @John Palmer

    Actually its not so much us web designers, its the consumer wanting more and more.. Believe me I would love to design for a single sized pipe but everyone has different speeds, different devices, different browsers and so on... Its becoming a real headache especially all those people that still insist on using IE8/7/6

  • Comment number 375.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    They need to sort 3G out before they move on the 4G. 3G signal in most rural and semi rural areas is poor at best and more often than not non-existant. For me a good, reliable and widely available 3G signal would be more than enough but it's all about the next best thing rather than getting the current technology to work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Someone beat me to it - surely free wi-fi everywhere should be the goal. Just have it available in public places, trains, coaches, city centres etc, and most especially in rural areas.

    Sounds like this scheme will just make the well-served better served.

    Probably get way more people way more connected than this scheme.

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    I can't wait to be able to see my facebook updates a cool one second quicker than I do now. Millions well spent to ensure we become even less sociable as a species, as we all keep our heads down drowning into all our tech.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    The main criticisms of 4G seem to be "It is in the cities first! Why not in the middle of the no where in the rural areas!".

    The thing is, these companies need money to make infrastructure. If it is set up in a city, they have tens of thousands of customers (who buy the service, give them money so they can expand) in comparison to the middle of no where which will only benefit, at max:100 people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    131 s2art53 Couldn't agree more, why can't Ofcom make the providers of existing technology infrastructure we already pay for (and handsomely) work better? I live 3 miles away from the city of Preston with less than 0.5mb broadband and a patchy 3G signal. Ofcom wake up, the vast majority of city workers - don't live in the cities. Yet more sycophantic garbage from the London media bubble.


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