* Company, 4G brand and network renamed EE
* 4G service in 16 cities by Christmas
* Orange and T-Mobile brands retained
* 700 stores will to be rebranded as EE
By Kate Holton
LONDON, Sept 11 Britain's biggest mobile
operator, Everything Everywhere, announced the imminent launch
of its superfast mobile service under the new brand EE, putting
it in line to become the first operator to carry the iPhone 5 on
the 4G network.
The operator, which had already stolen a march on its rivals
by persuading regulator Ofcom to allow it to move ahead with a
4G service before other providers, says it will offer superfast
connection speeds to 20 million people by Christmas.
"The networks built last century are too slow to handle the
needs of this modern, digital age," Chief Executive Olaf Swantee
told a press conference on Tuesday. , in reference to the
explosion in popularity of smartphones and tablet computers. "We
are going to change that."
Device makers including Samsung, Nokia
, HTC and Huawei will be available
through the EE brand, but the appeal of the new faster offering
could be driven further by the expected launch of Apple's
iPhone 5 on Wednesday.
"One more thing, we will be announcing more devices
shortly," the chief executive added.
Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between France
Telecom's Orange and Deutsche Telekom's
T-Mobile, will use the new EE title for its shops, network and
the 4G service. Its existing Orange and T-Mobile brands, which
have 27 million customers, will remain.
EE will start offering a fixed-line fibre-optic service and
the first fourth-generation mobile access within the next few
weeks, delivering speeds around five times faster than existing
The demand for faster services has been driven largely by
the popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.
The government, meanwhile, has urged the communications
industry to invest in its infrastructure to boost the economy,
especially in rural areas where connection speeds are generally
slower. However, the rollout has been hampered by the threat of
legal action from major operators over the allocation of
spectrum - the airwaves that carry mobile signals.
Vodafone, 3 and Telefonica's O2
were incensed by Ofcom's decision to allow Everything Everywhere
to move ahead with its 4G service while they have to wait to
acquire spectrum in a much-delayed auction next year.
As part of an agreement negotiated by the government, the
major operators have said they will hold off from taking legal
action while they try to find a way to speed the auction process
and spectrum release, a source familiar with the agreement said.
The EE brand began testing in four cities including London
and it expects the service to be available in 16 cities by the
end of the year. It has not released pricing details, but it
aims to begin commercial rollout in about a month.
The operator, formed in 2010, is pinning its hopes on the
new brand and the appeal of fast upload and download speeds to
give it added momentum in the highly competitive British market.
However, the launch of EE does carry its own risks, possibly
diverting customers from its original offerings and confusing
consumers with the launch of another name to add to Orange and
"Logic tells you that to sustain three brands is going to be
very expensive, and it does bring some confusion into consumers'
minds," Carrie Pawsey, senior telecoms strategy analyst at Ovum,
told Reuters. "I think, ultimately, we will see the Orange and
T-Mobile brands retired."
The company said it would also use the single EE name on its
700 stores, replacing the current mix of Orange, T-Mobile and
Everything Everywhere shop signs.
It has already announced a 1.5 billion pound ($2.4 billion)
investment in its network over the next three years and plans to
have 4G coverage for 98 percent of the population by the end of