EE launches 4G LTE service and its fibre broadband in the UK
EE is the new brand for Everything Everywhere, and while a rebranding was expected for the launch of the 4G LTE service utilising the 1800 MHz frequency band, the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile is also launching a fibre based broadband service under the same EE brand name. The promotional website refers to the 4G product as 4GEE.
The 4G LTE launch is promising downloads that are fives faster than the current 3G network and will be rolled out first in 16 cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton. The 4G LTE network should be up and running in those cities by the end of 2012, giving a coverage of over a third of the UK population.
Before people get too excited, the five times faster than 3G is clarified in the foot notes, and is based on a 3G average of 1.5 Mbps, and 4GEE averaging a speed of 8 to 12 Mbps.
Orange customers have been critical of the lack of a fibre based broadband service from the operator, and it seems the wait was for EE to emerge onto the scene. Fibre Broadband is being launched at the same time, and while the initial website is sparse on detail, the 11 million homes covered indicates that it is based on the Openreach FTTC/P roll-outs. The footnotes reveal an average speed of 58.5 Mbps for this service is to expected, but crucially no pricing or dates for when people can order. We do know that at launch there will be no pay as you go plans for the 4GEE service, but people can expect this to change in the future.
The handful of devices that are currently announced as compatible with 4GEE are the Huawei E589 Mobile Wifi, Huawei Ascend P1 LTE, HTC One XL, Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, Nokia Lumia 920 LTE, Nokia Lumia 820 LTE and the Huawei E392 MBB Stick. More devices are coming soon.
The launch feels very like a soft launch, as you cannot actually order the 4GEE or fibre broadband service at this time, there is a registration form so that EE can keep you updated on progress. Existing Orange and T-Mobile customers using 3G may very soon notice their phones reporting EE as the network identifier, in addition to stores rebranding.