Everything Everywhere (London, UK), the joint venture between Orange (Paris, France) and T-Mobile (Berlin, Germany), has revealed the launch plans for its 4G LTE business, which has been controversially given a headstart on its big rivals by UK authorities.
The company has also announced that its 4G services will be offered under the EE brand. Until now, Orange and T-Mobile had continued to use their separate brands for services provided over the Everything Everywhere network.
Everything Everywhere says its 4G services will be made available to a third of the UK population before the end of the year, including the cities of London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
It aims to extend coverage to 70% of the population in 2013 and to 98% in 2014.
Consumers will be able to choose from a range of LTE devices, and Everything Everywhere has already confirmed it will provide the Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, the HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.
Besides those smartphones, customers will be able to hook up to a mobile WiFi device from Huawei (Shenzhen, China) and connect laptops using a Huawei LTE dongle.
The operator will also launch its superfast broadband service to complement the 4G offer. Fibre-based services will be available under the Everything Everywhere brand to 11 million households and businesses by the end of the year and two thirds of them by the end of 2014, says the company.
Everything Everywhere turned on its 4G network in London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham earlier this week so that engineers can begin testing the technology.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the company is introducing the new EE brand into a market where existing brands are widely recognized by consumers.
Even so, the details accompanying news of the LTE launch suggest the Orange and T-Mobile brands may soon be phased out entirely.
Everything Everywhere says that from this week an ‘EE’ signal indicator will start to replace ‘Orange’ and ‘T-Mobile’ on the phones of existing customers. Orange and T-Mobile shops are also being rebranded as EE stores.
Following the merger, Everything Everywhere has been able to slash costs by stripping out equipment in areas where the 2G and 3G networks of Orange and T-Mobile overlapped. The new EE branding has been timed to coincide with the completion of that process.
Everything Everywhere will be offering 4G services over its substantial swathe of 1800MHz spectrum, which the UK regulator licensed for use with LTE several weeks ago.
That decision angered Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and Telefonica-owned O2 (Madrid, Spain), Everything Everywhere’s chief rivals in the UK mobile-phone market, which must wait until the outcome of a spectrum auction next year before they can hope to provide 4G services of their own.