The 4G official announcement: Industry reaction

Everything Everywhere’s official announcement that it is rolling out 4G into the UK has been met with excitement by consumers and the mobile industry alike.

The company, which is Britain’s biggest mobile operator, said it would be launching the superfast mobile service under the new brand name EE.

EE says it will be offering superfast connection speeds to 20 million people by Christmas.

EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee said networks built last century were “too slow to handle the needs of this modern, digital age,” adding: “We are going to change that”.

The brand has already been testing in four cities, including London, and EE expects to have the service available in 16 cities by the end of the year.

For consumers, this means it will take just three seconds to download an average four-minute song, compared to some 16 seconds at the moment for customers using 3G. And downloading a two-hour film will take just 7.5 minutes compared to just under 40 minutes with 3G. So, while a bit of forward planning is involved if you want to watch a movie at the moment, you’ll be able to choose one at the last minute with 4G.

The news has provoked a mostly positive reaction from industry insiders, analysts and consumers.

Ernest Doku, who is telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, described the move as an “incredibly exciting development for the mobile market and a hugely ambitious rollout”.  He added that if everything went to plan, Britain would “officially be in a new digital era”.

Carphone Warehouse’s chief commercial officer Graham Stapleton said he too “very much welcomed the launch of EE” as the UK has previously lagged behind other countries in the development of the technology.

“There is no doubt this will give a much-needed boost to the industry and economy and help put the UK back at the forefront of mobile technology and innovation,” he added.

Mr Stapleton said the faster speeds would bring a better experience to both his, and other mobile companies, customers.

One criticism has been that rural communities could once again miss out when it comes to getting the latest technology.

Dominic Baliszewski is telecoms expert at Broadbandchoices.co.uk. He said the rollout was “great news for Londoners” but he feared customers in rural areas could be the losers.

While 4G has long been hailed as the answer to problems rural communities have with poor fixed line speeds, he said further 4G launches were likely to follow EE’s lead by focusing on more commercially viable urban areas.

Everything Everywhere, which formed in 2010, hopes the new brand and the desire for fast upload and download speeds will give it better sales in the highly-competitive British mobile and broadband market.

How much initial demand there really is for 4G remains to be seen but EE is not short of ambition, or funds it would seem. It has announced it is investing a mammoth £1.5bn in its network over the next three years and has pledged to have 4G coverage for 98 per cent of the population in the next two years.

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