4G mobile services available for British consumers and businesses for the first time ever today and network rollout to increase to 2,000 square miles every month
Superfast 4G mobile services are available for consumers and businesses for the first time ever today as EE launches its new 4G offering accross 11 cities. The launch is set to offer a timely boost to the UK economy offering firms the opportunity to increase innovation, boost productivity and cut costs, as has been the experience of companies in countries such as the US, Sweden, Japan and Germany since the technology was first introduced. Today also marks the arrival of over 700 EE stores on high streets across the country in one of the biggest and fastest transformations in UK retail history.
Matthew Howett, regulation analyst at research firm, Ovum, said the launch of EE's 4G service marks a turnaround in the UK's reputation for the fourth generation of mobile tech: 'In many ways the UK has gone from laggard to leader, staging one of the most ambitious 4G launches we have seen. Trying to convince consumers to buy into something they haven't yet seen or had experience of was always going to be difficult, and was further complicated by EE's desire to both make the most of its head start over the other mobile operators, and to clearly differentiate the 4G offering from the rest of its offering. In the end it went for the middle ground and has priced services at a premium but not at levels completely inaccessible to the mass market.'
On average, 4G mobile coverage will be made available to around two million people in Britain every single month between now and the end of 2014, making this the fastest rollout of any UK network in history.
Howett continued: 'It's fair to say that EE has attracted a fair degree of criticism, not so much for the price of the 4G tariffs (they are only priced at a 10% to 20% premium on most 3G plans), but rather on the amount of data bundled at each level. EE was always going to have a difficult role to play being the first mover. However, its peers may be grateful for attempting to move away from an all-you-can-eat world for data to an attempt to monetise it. Too quickly data became commoditised for operators once smartphones and other connected devices proliferated.
'We have said previously that consumers will likely only see the true benefits of 4G when there is more than one player in the market, and that looks set to become a reality in mid 2013 when additional mobile spectrum is awarded for 4G,' Howett added. 'While consumers might grumble about all the other operators coming late to this party, we should remember that it was because Ofcom was trying to guarantee a competitive, four-player market post auction that we have seen so many delays.'
The delivery of 4G and the company's retail transformation has been underpinned by an intensive employee training programme as well as a comprehensive national IT infrastructure upgrade to ensure that EE customers receive expert service. Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE, said: 'Today is a landmark day for our company, the UK mobile industry and, most importantly, the country's businesses and consumers. But this is just the start as our 4G network will continue to grow stronger and wider by the day. We're investing £1.5 billion in our network to be the first company to offer mobile 4G in the UK, alongside the biggest 3G network. Combined with our Fibre Broadband and revolutionary service model we have a pioneering and unique offer to customers across the UK; superfast speeds in the home, superfast speeds on the move and expert service on nearly every high street in Britain.' In its first phase, the 4G service is going live in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton.