Everything Everywhere pours £1.5B into three-year network upgrade plan

Everything Everywhere (EE) said it will invest over £1.5 billion in the next three years to boost network coverage and prepare for the launch of LTE service. The company also said this move would accelerate the integration of its Orange UK and T-Mobile UK networks, leading to an improvement in data speeds in many areas.

Apart from this, EE has given little indication as to how the £1.5 billion will be spent, with an EE spokeswoman declining to say if the investment would be split equally over the next three years. She also refused to detail network investments made in 2011.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said in a statement: "With mobile data increasing 250 per cent over the past two years, we are making these investments so we can deliver on our ambition to provide the UK's most reliable, biggest and best mobile data network."

James Barford, at market research firm Enders Analysis, said that the level of investment EE was planning indicates the company is "pretty serious" about improving and modernising its network. "Everything Everywhere is increasing its spend, but it's not spending as much as the other two have done," Barford told the Wall Street Journal, noting that the operator invested around £433 million on its network over the past year, compared to O2's £622 million and Vodafone's £557 million over the same period.

Commenting on the timescales for LTE in the UK, telecoms analyst Nick Brown of Espirito Santo said EE appeared to be positioning itself for a coming auction of LTE spectrum. "We wouldn't be surprised to see it pushed back further to 2013," Brown told Reuters. "The UK is falling behind when it comes to selling off these airwaves."

Following a recent trial of LTE conducted in partnership with BT, EE indicated that it would be investing in equipment that could be easily upgraded to support LTE, along with significant investments in backhaul.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Financial Times article (sub. req.)
- see the Telegeography article

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