A new 4G network for the UK, and a new brand: EE

After years of staring in envy at the US – and even some of its European neighbours – the UK today took its first step towards a 4G future, with the launch of ‘EE’, a new brand dedicated to super-fast connectivity, including not just 4G LTE mobile products, but also fibre connections to the home and office.

At an event at London’s Science Museum this morning, the company’s CEO, Olaf Swantee, revealed that the cumbersomely named ‘Everything Everywhere’ brand – the umbrella that covers both Orange and T-Mobile in the UK – is to be renamed ‘EE’. This will also become the name of the physical network, so device owners will soon see ‘EE’ replacing “T-Mobile Orange” as their provider before the end of the year.

But the bigger and more exciting revelation was the announcement of EE as a third brand, sitting alongside T-Mobile and Orange, dedicated to providing super-fast connectivity to the UK. Orange will remain a ‘premium’ focused brand, for customers who value added extras; T-Mobile is a more straightforward value-focused proposition. Both networks will continue to offer 3G connections. The EE brand got its first outing today; the new logo combines with a colour palette of aqua, yellow, white and ivory, and dynamic ‘particles’ (or dots) that come together to form text and other graphical elements.

EE will usher in the UK’s first 4G LTE service, a change that the company’s CEO described as a “revolution” for the UK. The new brand aims to provide the biggest, best and fastest network in the UK, and the process of rolling it out begins now.

Four UK cities – London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff – had their 4G signals switched on today. Engineers are currently engaged in testing in those cities, but by the end of the year, these and twelve further cities will be customer-ready. 4G coverage will be available for 20m people – around a third of the UK population – by the year's end; by the end of 2013, this will increase to 70%; by the end of 2014, EE promises to offer 98% coverage of the United Kingdom. EE says this represents the fastest deployment of any mobile technology in the UK ever.

But what about the all-important question of devices? Five handsets were officially announced for EE’s launch today:

  • Nokia Lumia 920
  • Nokia Lumia 820
  • HTC One XL
  • Samsung Galaxy S III LTE
  • Huawei Ascend P1 LTE

…but “one more thing”, was also promised – a rather thinly veiled hint at the imminent arrival of the new iPhone (due to be announced tomorrow) on the new network. Additionally, two data devices will be offered: the Huawei E589 hotspot, and the Huawei E392 USB stick.

Predictably, EE isn’t yet announcing details of pricing or availability, but promises that further info will be revealed in the coming weeks.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, made a special guest appearance at today’s event, and put in a fantastic performance that had the assembled press roaring with laughter. He began by congratulating the telecoms companies – including EE, but then put his foot in by repeatedly mentioning rivals O2 and Vodafone “and erm… who are the other guys? Ah yes, BT – our Olympic sponsors, of course” to the amusement of all – for their success in keeping London connected during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He also referred to the ‘particles’ of EE’s brand – which the company spent around 15 minutes discussing – as “those lovely pollen count dots”, adding that “4G mustn’t be confused with G4S” (that’s one for us Brits), before admitting, to the surprise of no-one, that he didn’t fully understand 4G technology.

However, he underlined the enormous benefits that the new technology will bring to London and its residents and businesses, before officially declaring London’s 4G network ‘switched on’. In demos after the main keynote, speeds of over 20Mbps were shown on the HTC One XL and Galaxy S III – although we’ll have to wait and see if these speeds can be consistently achieved in the real world.

We’ll of course be tracking this story closely in the weeks and months ahead, and we look forward to getting our hands on the UK’s first 4G devices soon.

What do you think of the new 'EE' name? Do you think it will confuse customers to have a third brand alongside T-Mo and Orange? And what about the new devices? Do you think you'll be an early adopter of 4G LTE on the new carrier? Let us know your thoughts below!

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Just spoke to orange and was told I would not need to switch to EE to get new service, they would simply send out a new sum card (and I'd obviously need a device capable of the correct LTE radio).

"In demos after the main keynote, speeds of over 20Mbps were shown on the HTC One XL and Galaxy S III - although we'll have to wait and see if these speeds can be consistently achieved in the real world."

They can be achieved somewhat consistently. http://i.imgur.com/YzX5r.jpg

I'm on Bell Canada's 4G network and my HTC Raider regularly goes above 30Mbit and my record is over 40Mbit download. Uploads are slower but still pushing 10Mbit or higher.

with this being a new network, I hope from day one visual voicemail is supported along with LTE and the whole gist of future tech. I will switch to EE if this is the case as soon as I possibly can - no Visual voicemail is the only issue I have with Orange, that and no word on when it will be happening (which based on this it may not ever be happening).

Giffgaff needs to wait on o2 to get 4g, come on o2! I won't move to EE if I had a lte phone because I guarantee there will be silly caps

zikalify said,
Giffgaff needs to wait on o2 to get 4g, come on o2! I won't move to EE if I had a lte phone because I guarantee there will be silly caps
Everyone else that is not Everything Everywhere will have to wait till the 4G spectrum sell-off begins next year. So basically if you want 4G, it's either with EE or end of next year.

zikalify said,
Giffgaff needs to wait on o2 to get 4g, come on o2! I won't move to EE if I had a lte phone because I guarantee there will be silly caps

Last I'd heard was that O2 was testing their 4G network but wasn't rolling it out yet. You can bet that whichever network you choose for 4G you'll still have to deal with "silly caps".

neo158 said,

Last I'd heard was that O2 was testing their 4G network but wasn't rolling it out yet. You can bet that whichever network you choose for 4G you'll still have to deal with "silly caps".

It'll be a while before they can roll out their 4G network, Everything Everywhere has the exclusive rights to be the only company (for the time being) to launch a 4G network

It's a weird choice, because surely somewhere down the line 4G will become standard and will have to move down to Orange and T-Mobile, at which point they're just running 3 brands all offering the same things.

KibosJ said,
By which time T-Mobile and Orange will probably have been phased out completely

Yeah, it's only a matter of time. The 2G networks are merged, just waiting on 3G, and 4G will be merged from the outset. When they get 3G sorted out (maybe they have already? It started last October), there will be no need for separate companies.

what said,

Yeah, it's only a matter of time. The 2G networks are merged, just waiting on 3G, and 4G will be merged from the outset. When they get 3G sorted out (maybe they have already? It started last October), there will be no need for separate companies.

2G and 3G network will stay exactly how it is now - in other words, some of the masts and network gubbins were formerly set up by T-Mobile and Orange separately and now, even though they're still technically separate, they work together - your mobile uses whichever mast as appropriate (called Smart Signal Sharing). In fact the network name changing on your phone is the only indication of you using the other company's setup - in real terms it doesn't matter.

The only difference that will happen with 2G and 3G going forward is that they'll change the network name for both cludged-together networks to EE - once that happens you won't know when you're on the other network.

It's a bit like the Maestro banking network in the UK - technically speaking it's still exactly the same as it was when it was Switch, with the same features (like being able to "Switch" at a cash register) but it has a different name to match what is already used in Europe (which is technically a different banking network). Same with Maestro in Ireland - technically speaking it's the Laser Card network when used in Ireland.

4G is a completely new single network owned and set up by Everything Everywhere and will only be offered under the EE brand.

All well and good, but the real deciding factors (For me) will be price and data usage. For £15 a month, I get unlimited 3G data. I'd want unlimited 4G for no more than £20 per month and frankly that's pushing it. (Sim-only prices, of course).

I have a sneaky feeling they'll aim for a ludicrous £40 per month or something.

This is great news. Great that the Uk is finally getting a 4g network and where I live (Sheffield) will be (hopefully) enabled at the end of the year.

The only downside is, is that im currently on Orange so hopefully it won't be too much of a hassle to migrate over to EE

Munroe said,
This is great news. Great that the Uk is finally getting a 4g network and where I live (Sheffield) will be (hopefully) enabled at the end of the year.

The only downside is, is that im currently on Orange so hopefully it won't be too much of a hassle to migrate over to EE


Hi five bro. I also live in Sheffield (Meadowhall)
Only down side persnally. I not long just sined up to 3. So far i've not hd any problems. On an iphone 4S 2 year contract. But i've not heard anythin about 3 getting better speed mobile internet.

thealexweb said,
What a hopeless brand name, T-Orange would have been slightly better.

Orange and T-Mobile are both owned by Everything Everywhere, Orange and T-Mobile for 3G and EE for 4G. All that will happen is your phone won't have Orange, T-Mobile, Orange T-Mobile or T-Mobile Orange it'll just have Everything Everywhere or EE as the network. Orange customers can currently use T-Mobile masts and vice versa.

Edited by neo158, Sep 11 2012, 2:19pm :

neo158 said,

Orange and T-Mobile are both owned by Everything Everywhere, Orange and T-Mobile for 3G and EE for 4G. Orange customers can currently use T-Mobile masts and vice versa.

I know that.. I was merely pointing it wasn't hard to come up with a better brand name.

thealexweb said,

I know that.. I was merely pointing it wasn't hard to come up with a better brand name.

I don't know, Everything Everywhere works for me. I don't think that T-Orange or Orange-Mobile is that descriptive really, is it, unlike Everything Everywhere which kind of describes exactly what a mobile network is all about, having Everything Everywhere.

I do think that the T-Mobile and Orange shops will be merged and rebranded though.

neo158 said,

I don't know, Everything Everywhere works for me. I don't think that T-Orange or Orange-Mobile is that descriptive really, is it, unlike Everything Everywhere which kind of describes exactly what a mobile network is all about, having Everything Everywhere.

I do think that the T-Mobile and Orange shops will be merged and rebranded though.

One problem with EE is that when people slant it it's easy to take the **** out of e.g. Nothing anywhere xD

My main question about EE is: will it inherit the awful Asian-based customer service currently offered by Orange? I suspect yes. Other questions: what about Orange's buggy website, badly designed info line (just to get my balance I have to dial 150, wait, press 1, wait, press 1, wait and press 1 again) or habit of increasing charges without prior notice?

For about the last year I have been looking forward to leaving Orange when my contract expires this autumn and moving to a Windows Phone 8 device with O2. Now I am not sure what to do. Well, for now, I suppose I will just see how the next couple of months pans out as more details become available and more products are released. Then in November it will be time to decide whether to sell my soul and sign up to Orange/EE for another two years. Sigh.

Timble said,
... Then in November it will be time to decide whether to sell my soul and sign up to Orange/EE for another two years. Sigh.

Or go SIM free with a low cost provider, I did it a year ago and never looked back. Same service, same network, no contracts and its cheaper!

So... this is a third brand that Everything Everywhere owns (Orange, T-Mobile are the other two). Does this mean that 4G won't be coming to Orange or T-Mobile?

In other words, my contract for T-Mobile comes to the end, do I have to migrate to EE like I would with any other network?

EDIT: The Register answered my question - Yes (no 4G for Orange or T-Mobile) and Yes (have to "migrate" to EE if I wasnt 4G) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/11/ee_brand/

Indeed, The Register's info is spot-on. T and O will remain 3G networks, but there will be 'easy upgrade' paths offered for existing customers wanting to switch to EE services.

gcaw said,
Indeed, The Register's info is spot-on. T and O will remain 3G networks, but there will be 'easy upgrade' paths offered for existing customers wanting to switch to EE services.

I can see why this would be annoying but EE is meant to be replacing Orange and T-Mobile, this would be a good start.

dogmatix said,
Alphabet soup. Just get on with providing the service. Why not save time and call it Orange?

Or T-Mobile?

Definitely not a mouthful. Taking it's sweet ass time getting to the UK though. For all our residential broadband providings, mobile broadband is painfully lagging behind. Hopefully not for much longer though.

yeoo_andy_ni said,
Definitely not a mouthful. Taking it's sweet ass time getting to the UK though. For all our residential broadband providings, mobile broadband is painfully lagging behind. Hopefully not for much longer though.
Our broadband isnt that good compared to other countries, Look at south korea with 1gbps and now kansas and a few others, atm the UK govt is talking about making 10mb the norm 0.o

zikalify said,
Our broadband isnt that good compared to other countries, Look at south korea with 1gbps and now kansas and a few others, atm the UK govt is talking about making 10mb the norm 0.o

Unfortunately our infrastructure is very old and still relies on heavy on copper wire for our phone lines. While FTTC and even FTTP is rolling out, after most of the country has mostly FTTC, then OpenReach can start working on rolling FTTP to the rest of the people, but until then, BT will max out what they can do with FTTC before that happens.