Everything Everywhere has hit the switch on its 4G mobile broadband network in the UK, promising to deliver services in 16 cities by Christmas.
On Tuesday, the operator announced its new 4G LTE network, with the aim of reaching one-third of the UK's population by the end of 2012. As part of the launch, Everything Everywhere is changing its name to 'EE', which will cover the new super-fast broadband business and operate alongside its existing Orange and T-Mobile brands.
The 4G service has been switched on in four cities — London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham — with 12 others to follow. These are: Belfast, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
"We look forward to connecting the country with super-fast mobile speeds in the coming weeks, months and years," the operator's chief executive Olaf Swantee said in a statement.
"And it starts today, with the announcement of our new business, our new brand and a new digital infrastructure that our company, our customers and the country can be proud of."
The operator plans to carry on with the 4G rollout over the next few years, with the aim of reaching 70 percent of the British population by 2013 and 98 percent by 2014.
A jump on its rivals
Everything Everywhere got a jump on its 4G rivals in the UK when Ofcom decided to allow it to 'refarm' its 1800MHz spectrum for 4G services, ahead of the general 4G spectrum auction scheduled for the end of 2012. Tuesday was the first day that the operator was allowed to begin its 4G push.
"All eyes will be on the company once the rollout gets under way. For it to be an attractive proposition for consumers, it requires a good degree of network coverage, an attractive range of handsets and easy-to-understand pricing," Matthew Howett, practice leader of Ovum's regulatory team, said in a statement.
"From what we learnt today, EE certainly seems to have done everything right on the first two, but pricing will not be known until the firm launches in a few weeks' time."
At its event at the Science Museum in London on Tuesday, EE revealed the 4G-enabled handsets that it will start offering on its plans. These are: Samsung Galaxy S III LTE, the recently unveiled Windows Phone 8 handset Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. It will also carry the Huawei E589 Mobile Wi-Fi and the Huawei E392 Mobile Broadband stick.
Handset retailer Carphone Warehouse welcomed the launch, pointing out that the UK has fallen behind other countries in providing the fast mobile broadband services. Phone, laptop and tablet makers have not been able to release their 4G-tailored products in Britain, and the problems Apple ran into with describing its last iPad are one example of the problems they face.
"The UK has lagged behind other countries in the development of 4G, which is why we very much welcome the launch of EE. There is no doubt this will give a much needed boost to the industry and economy and help put the UK back at the forefront of mobile technology and innovation," Graham Stapleton, chief commercial officer at Carphone Warehouse, said in a statement.
"Our customers are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets to browse the web and 4G will bring ultra-fast internet speeds that will significantly improve this experience."
Alongside the 4G network, EE said it will introduce fibre broadband services to provide super-fast speeds over fixed-line connections.