updated 10:40 am EDT, Tue September 11, 2012
Offering 4G LTE, fiber optic service to 11 million people
The UK's first 4G service has officially been announced. Everything Everywhere, formed by the combination of carriers Orange and T-Mobile, has named the new network EE, turning the network on today. The service stands to offer not only 4G LTE services to customers, but also a fibre broadband service that will reach 11 million homes and businesses by the end of the year.
The initial launch devices for the service will be the Samsung Galaxy S III LTE, Nokia Lumia 820, Nokia Lumia 920, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE, with the Huawei E392 performing mobile broadband duties.
London, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Bristol will initially get the services, with another 12 areas to be launched by the end of this year. This would cover roughly a third of the UK population, but a full nationwide 4G rollout should see 98 percent of the population covered with 4G by 2014. With both Orange and T-Mobile networks combined, existing customers will begin switching over to the seamless EE network, with all 27 million customers of both companies using it by the end of this year. Orange and T-Mobile will continue to exist as seperate entities, with different contract and handset offerings.
In order to support the network, over 700 EE-branded stores will open across the country, more than any other UK carrier. Many of these will be rebranded Orange and T-Mobile stores instead of new locations.
The launch comes shortly after UK regulator Ofcom gave permission for the company to use the currently used 1,800MHz spectrum for its 4G rollout, ahead of a full auction for the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands scheduled for the start of 2013. Other carriers disagreed with Ofcom's decision, with Vodafone accusing it of showing a "careless disregard for the ebst interests of consumers, businesses, and the wider economy."