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Everything Everywhere pledges £1.5bn for 3G, 4G boost

The company behind the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile has said it will spend £1.5bn over the course of the next three years bolstering its network and preparing for a 4G rollout
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Mobile network operator Everything Everywhere has said it will spend £1.5bn over the next three years on upgrading its network for better reliability and speed, including the implementation of 4G-ready technology.

Everything Everywhere shop

Everything Everywhere has said it will spend £1.5bn over the next three years upgrading its network. Photo credit: Karen Friar

The company announced the boost to its 'network evolution programme' on Thursday and said that it would create the UK's broadest 3G data coverage.

"We believe that the UK requires a 21st-century infrastructure and are committed to rolling out 4G as soon as possible to support growing data use, connect parts of the country with little or no mobile broadband, and drive economic growth," Olaf Swantee, chief executive of Everything Everywhere, said in a statement.

Along with upgrading its 3G network, Everything Everywhere said it is spending money on equipment for faster and wider coverage that can be easily upgraded to 4G once spectrum is allocated. It also said it will upgrade backhaul — the fixed network linking individual cell sites — in order to "achieve even faster data speeds".

The UK 4G auctions were originally scheduled to take place in September 2008 but have suffered repeated setbacks. Barring further delays, they are now scheduled to take place in 2013, meaning that operators will most likely not provide high-speed 4G services until 2014 at the earliest.

Everything Everywhere has been testing 4G technology in Cornwall, in conjunction with BT and Huawei, which achieves speeds between 2Mbps and 20Mbps. The trial is set to end in January 2012.

The company is a joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, announced in September 2010. As part of the sharing agreement, customers can switch to whichever network is providing stronger signal coverage for voice calls, texts and data services.

The company said that it is now approaching the end of its "big switch-on" — allowing customers to use 2G and 3G data services between the networks — and that from early 2012, it will be upgrading the service to allow Orange and T-Mobile's customers' handsets to automatically switch between networks if the signal is weak.

In November, Ofcom released a report on mobile coverage in the UK, which showed that while urban areas are generally well covered by 2G and 3G from the majority of large UK operators more rural areas tended to fare worse. Overall, 73 percent of UK premises receive 3G coverage from all major operators. However, if judging by geographic area instead of by premises, around 30 percent of the UK has no 3G, Ofcom said.

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