Everything Everywhere is set to launch the first fourth generation (4G) mobile service in the UK by the end of the year. Initially set to roll out in 16 cities the company said that it would continue the rollout into 2013, with the aim of providing 4G to 98% of the UK by 2014. 4G coverage is currently being tested in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol ahead of the launch later this year. Other cities to get the high-speed connectivity will include Belfast, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
The UK has fallen behind many other countries in the roll out of 4G and this announcement has been welcomed, although users have suggested that the company should have focused on getting current services to work properly before embarking on the roll out of 4G.
The news has not been welcomed by the company’s rivals who believe that Everything Everywhere have been allowed a head start while they must wait until the airwaves auction next year.
EE won permission to launch 4G services in an Ofcom ruling published on 21 August. In November 2011 it asked Ofcom for permission to run the high-speed data services over part of the radio spectrum it already uses for earlier generation technologies.
While EE may have a head-start all operators will get a chance to buy spectrum to support 4G in 2013 when Ofcom runs an auction to divide up the radio frequencies reserved for these services.
The threat of legal action has delayed the auction and led to the UK trailing many other nations that already have fast-speed 4G services up and running.
Everything Everywhere is also looking to promote its new EE brand and while the Chief executive Olaf Swantee admitted the Everything Everywhere moniker wasn’t perfect he did suggest that the Orange and T-Mobile individual brands it replaces may not be lost.
4G mobile technology should mean that consumers in the 16 cities listed will benefit from improved network access speeds and future rollouts could help rural areas where fixed line broadband speeds remain poor.
EE will offer several handsets to use with the service including Samsung”s Galaxy S III LTE; HTC”s One XL and Huawei”s Ascend P1 LTE. The company will also offer Nokia”s Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 – the latter of which the company has as an exclusive deal.
In addition, other devices will be launched to allow customers to connect existing equipment – such as laptops – to the 4G network.
The use of 4G is expected to create a huge demand for data, which will require networks to update their infrastructure.