Everything Everywhere, the parent company of Orange and T-Mobile, is being rebranded as 'EE' as the operator readies itself for the launch of 4G LTE services across the UK.
Chief executive Olaf Swantee announced the rebranding of the company, a joint venture of Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, on Tuesday at the Science Museum in London.
"EE is a new network, a new company and a new brand built for this century," Swantee said. "Built for the gigabyte generation."
The rebranding is part of the network's launch of 4G LTE services, which Swantee said will take place in "the coming weeks". EE will cover the new super-fast broadband network and services. The existing Orange and T-Mobile brands for 3G and 2G business will continue to operate alongside it, though their stores will be turned into EE shops.
From Tuesday, mobile customers of Orange or T-Mobile will begin to see the network signal 'EE' displayed on their devices, where previously it would have said Orange or T-Mobile. All 27 million of the operator's existing subscribers will be switched over to the new EE network, the company said.
"It means that Orange and T-Mobile customers can now get faster 3G service, with speeds of up to 21Mbps, and more coverage than ever before," it said in a statement.
In addition, Orange and T-Mobile customers will be the first in line for access to EE's 4G plans, the operator said.
Swantee said the new brand enables EE to diversify its products; for example, he confirmed that alongside 4G services, EE will also offer super-fast fibre-broadband services to businesses and consumers. In areas without fibre, it will sell standard broadband over ADSL. No details of pricing or launch timing were available at the time of writing.
However, Ovum senior analyst Carrie Pawsey was downbeat on whether this brand strategy would benefit the company.
"The long-term objective of Everything Everywhere has always been to bring the EE brand to the UK market, and therefore the timing is right in that it will be differentiated by being a 4G service," said Pawsey, who specialises in telecoms strategy.
"However, from a strategic and cost position we cannot see this how sustaining three brands is a long-term solution and the quicker the two legacy brands are withdrawn, the better for the business."
Swantee said EE's resultant 4G and fibre networks aim to provide a new digital infrastructure for the UK which Swantee said would become "as important to the country as the roads and railways".
"At its heart is a new digital infrastructure that will take Britain into the 21st century," Swantee added.
While the download speed of EE's 4G LTE network remains to be seen, the company said it will be five times faster than 3G speeds and will allow for things like watching TV on the move with no buffering.
The operator said it has seen a 250-percent increase in data consumption from its customers every year, prompting the need for higher speeds and more capacity.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson appeared on stage for the EE launch. He seemed somewhat bemused, if positive, about the new technology and brand, describing Swantee's presentation as "evangelical".
"I'm delighted to be here at the birth, not just of EE, but at the arrival of this 4G revolution whose implications I'm afraid I barely understand," Johnson said. "4G is not to be confused with G4S... nor is EE to be confused with the EEC.
"This is a system which allows people like us, me, to use our gizmo; information will now spout in unbelievable, unstoppable quantities from these devices."
"Information will now spout in unbelievable, unstoppable quantities from these devices" — Boris Johnson
EE is testing its 4G LTE services in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol ahead of full rollout. By the end of 2012, it aims to have the service up and running in 16 cities, including Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds, Sheffield, Leeds, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle, Southampton and Derby.
By the end of the year, EE plans to have coverage of one-third of the UK's population. In 2013, it aims to expand this to 70-percent coverage, rising to 98-percent coverage by the end of 2014.
Device-wise, the service will launch with the freshly announced Nokia Lumia 920, as well as the HTC One XL, Huawei Ascend P1 LTE and the Galaxy SIII LTE. There will also be 4G LTE dongles available.
Few details were given of the fibre broadband products that EE plans to offer, but the company aims to make the services available to more than 11 million homes and offices before the end of the year.