UK operator EE has signed a roaming deal with AT&T allowing customers of the US telecoms giant to use 4G services when travelling to the UK.
The operator also promised that further roaming deals would be announced early next year.
EE (Hatfield, UK) – a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany) and Orange (Paris, France) – has established a significant lead over its rivals in the UK’s 4G market, having launched services some ten months in advance of Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) and Vodafone (Newbury, UK), and the reach and capability of its network give it a major advantage when it comes to attracting roaming partners.
Claiming to cover about 60% of the country’s population, EE has also been making use of its considerable spectrum resources to launch what it calls “double-speed” 4G services.
The operator says in major cities its 4G network provides an average speed of 24– 30Mbps.
“With the biggest and fastest 4G network in the UK, we can provide our partners’ customers with the best mobile experience to stay connected when they visit the UK,” said Olaf Swantee, EE’s chief executive.
News of the 4G roaming deal comes weeks after both Deutsche Telekom and Orange announced their deployment of Diameter signaling technology, which operators are using to simplify the process of forming roaming partnerships with other players.
It also follows the publication of plans for telecoms-sector reforms by the European Commission (EC), which is eager to scrap the extra charges that operators levy on customers for using their phones abroad.
The EC is urging Europe’s operators to form alliances that would allow them to offer roaming services at domestic rates, and has threatened to intervene and impose further regulations on the industry if it does not take action.
In the UK, EE has recently signed up to a government initiative aimed at scrapping roaming charges within the European Union by 2016.
Rivals Vodafone, Three UK (Maidenhead, UK) and Virgin Media (Hook, UK) are also a part of that initiative.