EE set to launch the UK's first 4G network months ahead of rivals

By Lee Kaelin on September 11, 2012, 1:00 PM

The UK's first superfast 4G mobile broadband network is set to launch after wireless operator Everything Everywhere announced it will start to roll out its fourth-generation wireless service to four cities including London within weeks and increase coverage to 16 cities by the end of the year.

Everything Everywhere also rebranded itself as EE and will launch a new fiber broadband network, with up to 11 million homes expected to be eligible for the service by the New Year. As part of the makeover, the company intends to rename its existing Orange and T-Mobile retail stores as EE.

The firm's 4GEE service will run on its 1800MHz band using existing Orange and T-Mobile network infrastructure, which is currently being tested in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff and London. By the end of the year, Belfast, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton will all have 4G, with 98% of the UK to follow by 2014.

Several handsets will be offered with the service and Nokia's next-generation flagship Lumia 920 is rumored to be an EE exclusive. EE said it plans to offer smartphones from HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Huawei at launch. Those waiting for Apple's next iPhone will also be pleased to hear that Olaf Swantee of EE "hinted heavily" that it could be offered to customers once launched, according to the Telegraph.

Monthly service prices have yet to be confirmed, but we would expect rates similar to what top-end smartphones typically cost on contract. It's also uncertain how fast EE's network will operate, though recent trials by rival O2 reported that users were downloading at speeds of up to 100Mbps, a stark increase over 3G networks that struggle to maintain 5Mbps.

EE's competitors are not happy as the firm has at least a three-month head start on its opponents after Ofcom agreed the company could reuse its existing mobile spectrum to provide its 4G service. Its rivals are now considering court action against Ofcom, as they have to wait until the end of the year before they can purchase the spectrums they need in the much-delayed government auctions.

User Comments: 3

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slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Um, I thought Ofcom's duties were supposed to encourage competition and prevent monopolies, etc?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Yeah, but EE already had the air waves to pull it off, all the other providers didn't, and from my understanding (I could be wrong) but because the other providers have been trying to stop EE from using its own spectrum for 4G they have also stopped Ofcom from starting the bidding and dividing the remaining spectrum (I also believe now that analog TV has been switched off they are going to be using some of that space) either way I really don't care as I've been an Orange customer since I was 14 years old, If I get 4G services all the better for me! and to make things sweeter, I've heard from the great Vine that EE have been in talks with Apple over whether the new iPhone will run 4G on its network.

gobbybobby said:

There have been so many Delays in 4G roll out. I hope the other nettworks don't get there way and DELAY IT AGAIN

its there OWN DAM FAULT they can't offer 4G yet for making such a hoo haa about who gets which bit of the spectrum forcing the auction of it to be delayed time after time after time.

I am looking forward to being able to get a 4G Dongle for my home PC (I live in Bristol one of the first citys to get it) It may even be faster than the fixed Virgin Media fiber line I have. (currently only get 10meg with option up upgrade to 50, which would be doubled to 120 sometime next year)

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