The future of T-Mobile and Orange was essentially capped to remain slow-lane networks in the UK when, a day before Apple unveils a new iPhone, their JV holding company announced the new brand for the UK’s first 4G network.
- 16 cities: EE will cover 20 million people by Christmas, from launch in the next few weeks. Planned coverage is 70 percent of UK by 2013, 98 percent by 2014. Four cities were switched on for testing on Tuesday – London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingha,.
- Network switch: Orange and T-Mobile customers will begin to see “EE” as their handset networks. But “EE” will be the brand for the 4G network.
- Devices: Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, HTC One XL, Huwawei Ascend P1 LTE and two Huawei mobile dongles. Apple’s next iPhone was not confirmed but is possible since the current model is carried by both Orange UK and T-Mobile UK.
- Land line, too: EE will offer fibre broadband, presumably via wholesaling BT’s fibre-to-the-cabinet and/or fibre-to-the-home services via BT Openreach. Coverage is planned 11 million by year’s end.
Although T-Mobile UK and Orange UK will will go on as non-4G networks, they have also received an infrastructure upgrade which Everything Everywhere says will improve their 3G speeds.
Existing T-Mobile and Orange customers will be first to “have the opportunity” to upgrade to EE.
Amongst the most interesting and previously unknown facts is Everything Everywhere’s land line broadband offering – something which makes it a dual-play operator.
If it later added TV and land line telephone service, it would be compete head-on with Virgin Media, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse for the quad-play market. Adding TV service would be fairly straightforward through a YouView box, but it is likely best to wait until EE can accrue customers.
4G prospects in the UK and elsewhere in Europe had been languishing, with the European Commission urging UK national communications regulator Ofcom to get on with the auction of unused spectrum to enable 4G services by early 2013.
In August, Ofcom jumped the gun by allowing Everything Everywhere and Three to use existing spectrum for the purpose, angering rival networks, which were awaiting the upcoming auction.