EE has confirmed it will officially launch the UK’s first 4G service at the end of this month, announcing the availability of a range of handsets that will be compatible with the new network.
EE is the new 4G brand recently introduced by the country’s largest operator, Everything Everywhere, owner of the UK arms of T-Mobile and Orange.
While the operator had earlier pledged to switch on 4G-LTE in 16 UK cities by year-end, it appears to have held off on announcing an official launch date while regulator Ofcom was involved in ‘crunch’ talks with rival operators.
Ofcom announced earlier this week that all the country’s mobile operators should be in a position to launch LTE services using new spectrum from spring 2013, five months earlier than previously planned. This was seen as an attempt to appease Vodafone and O2, which had been angered by Ofcom’s controversial decision to allow EE to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE – and therefore launch 4G ahead of rivals.
“This is a significant milestone for the United Kingdom, and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee (pictured).
EE will launch 4G in ten cities on the 30 October, and will cover 16 cities – a third of the UK population – by the end of the year. It is aiming for 98 percent coverage by 2014.
From today, the 4G ready Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, HTC One XL and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE will be available to buy on Orange and T-Mobile 3G price plans. They join the iPhone 5 which was launched recently. Once 4G launches, Orange and T-Mobile customers with 4G ready handsets can then choose to move across to the new 4G EE customer brand or remain on the existing 3G network.