EE launches the UK's first 4G broadband
UK mobile users will be able to access superfast 4G mobile internet within weeks, after Everything Everywhere (that's T-Mobile and Orange) launched 'EE', the UK's first 4G mobile broadband network on Tuesday.
The new brand, (pronounced E.E, not 'eeee', in case you were wondering) will be the UK's first mobile network to sell 4G packages and offer vastly improved download speeds compared to current 3G networks.
Superfast mobile broadband will be available across 16 cities at first, with London, Newcastle, Leeds, Belfast, Birmingham, Southampton, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield and Bristol all set to benefit in time for Christmas.
London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham have already had their 4G networks switched on for testing.
EE has said it aims to connect more cities, towns and rural areas by 2013 covering 70% of the population, with 98% covered by 2014.
The news should cheer rural campaigners.
Olaf Swantee, Chief Executive of EE said that, "We're [EE] going to roll-out in rural areas like Wales, Cornwall and Cumbria next year. This is the fastest roll-out in UK history."
Plus some fibre
EE will also launch fibre broadband packages for the home.
The EE website says that fibre broadband "will be available to over 11 million homes" at launch, indicating that the service is based on the BT fibre-to-the-cabinet network of the same size.
This puts EE in the hunt for customers currently using fibre services with BT, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and Plusnet who also utilise the Openreach fibre network.
The website also suggests that EE will offer a monthly discount to customers who opt for both the 4G and home fibre package.
This type of discount is common practice, with both Orange and O2 currently offering a monthly discount to mobile phone customers who also subscribe to home phone and broadband packages (although that hasn't guaranteed success for either ISP).
But short on detail
At present there is scant further detail from EE regarding how much 4G contracts will cost, the speeds available or data allowances but tucked away on EE's website are a few morsels of information that when pieced together reveal more.
The small print suggests that EE's 4G service will offer average download speeds of around 8-12Mb rather than the 1-5Mb average achievable with 3G connections.
Whilst EE will neither confirm nor deny that it will be offering unlimited downloads on mobile 4G services, claims such as "stream films on the move" on the company's website suggest that either download allowances will be generous or its advertising is ripe for a few choice complaints to the ASA, a standard that broadband customers are well used to.
A list of handsets compatible with EE 4G is on the company's website and includes some big hitters, notably the Samsung Galaxy S III LTE, HTC One XL and the newly announced Nokia Lumia 920 LTE.
The iPhone 5 will almost certainly be compatible with EE's 4G network, after Swantee, dropped a none too subtle hint at the launch by saying: "Oh and one more thing, we will be announcing more devices very shortly."
The combination of the new iPhone and the UK's first 4G LTE network would give EE an enormous advantage over rival networks going into Christmas.
Something that will not have escaped the attentions of legions of corporate lawyers working for EE's opposition.