Everything Everywhere is still treading carefully when it comes to launching the UK’s first commercial 4G network.
The operator yesterday revealed it will rebrand as EE, and committed to launching 4G services in the coming weeks. However, it remains reluctant to commit to a precise launch date for the service, which will operate on refarmed 1800-MHz spectrum, announcing only that the service is available for testing in four major cities in England and Wales.
However, the commercial launch must be close. The carrier pledged to cover 33% of the UK’s population with 4G by the year-end, 70% by end 2013, and 98% by end 2014. The latter goal was a condition set by regulator Ofcom when it cleared EE to refarm its 3G spectrum for 4G services.
Mark Newman, chief research officer with Informa Telecoms & Media, says the carrier’s cautious approach is the right one. “EE will have to be careful about over promising on 4G capabilities, particularly given that the network will only cover 30% of the population by the end of this year. It will need to strike a balance between extolling the virtues of 4G in terms of speed and latency while, at the same time, continuing to invest in, and market its 3G network capability.”
Newman notes EE will have at least five compatible handsets available at launch, including “the best-selling Samsung Galaxy 3,” and predicts the new brand will be sold as a premium service alongside the carrier’s current Orange and T-Mobile monikers.
The operator also plans to tap the fixed line market with a fiber service it states will run ten times faster than current average broadband speeds.