Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Everything Everywhere soft launches 4G via EE

This morning Everything Everywhere announced the arrival of its new 4G services under its new EE brand. This follows on from media speculation yesterday, see these examples from the BBC and the Independent.

From the Everything Everywhere press release:
  • EE network switched on today
  • EE’s new customer brand to launch in the coming weeks with pioneering superfast 4G LTE mobile services and fibre broadband
  • EE’s superfast 4G service to launch in 16 cities by Christmas, covering 20 million people – a third of the population. Nationwide 4G roll out to accelerate through 2013 with 98% of UK population covered in 2014
  • EE’s superfast fibre broadband service to reach more than 11 million households and businesses by end of year
The 16 cities are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton. EE will also offer fixed broadband services too:
"EE will also launch a fibre broadband service to homes and businesses with fixed-line internet speeds typically ten times faster than today’s average broadband speeds. It means that EE’s 4G customers will be the first in the UK to enjoy superfast speeds on their mobile and at home or at work."
According to ISP Review, EE's fibre broadband service will be based on BT's fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) deployment. Coverage of today's announcement from the BBC here.

Helpfully for EE, it seems a truce has been called in relation to the dispute over whether Everything Everywhere should be allowed to launch 4G services in advance of Ofcom's forthcoming spectrum auction. From the Finanical Times ("Tories broker deal to allow 4G peace talks"):
"The Financial Times has learnt Everything Everywhere, Vodafone, Three and O2 have signed a stand-still agreement that will prevent any legal action for a month while talks are held to help all proceed with 4G plans."
This "cooling off period" will hopefully enable the industry to agree a collective way forward, to prevent any further delay to the deployment of 4G in the UK. The FT report that as a result of this agreement, brokered by the Government and Ofcom, EE will not roll out 4G services in the month from last Monday, with some referring to today's announcement as a "soft launch" as a result.

Talks will continue to investigate how other operators' deployment plans can be accelerated to minimise EE's first-mover advantage, for example by clearing the spectrum to be used for 4G services faster than originally planned. More on this from ISP Review here.

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