EE to launch 4G services in UK on 30 October, handsets available now

A few weeks ago, EE – formerly ‘Everything Everywhere’, the joint venture company behind T-Mobile and Orange in the UK – invited us to the announcement of their new 4G LTE service, becoming the first carrier to offer such a service in the UK. But while there was plenty of information to take away from that event, not everything was revealed on the day – the question of when the service would become available remained unanswered.

But EE’s chief executive, Olaf Swantee, has now confirmed that ten British cities will see the launch of 4G services on 30 October, with that number growing to sixteen by the end of the year:

The company also announced that its first 4G-ready devices are now available for consumers and business customers to purchase from T-Mobile and Orange stores, online and via the company’s call centres. Customers will be able to use 4G-ready handsets straight away on the company’s existing 3G network, and will be upgraded to “a new superfast EE 4G plan” when they become available. The following devices are available to buy right now:

  • Apple iPhone 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S III LTE
  • HTC One XL
  • Huawei Ascend P1 LTE

EE added that the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE – a device not mentioned at the announcement last month – will also join the line-up of 4G-ready handsets available to buy on 15 October.

But two notable omissions from the list of available devices are the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. The carrier announced last month that it would be offering both devices, but as Nokia has still not officially confirmed when the two new Windows Phone 8 handsets will become available, EE has apparently been left unable to even open pre-orders for the devices at this stage.

Olaf Swantee stated: “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.” The company also reiterated its promise that a third of the UK population will be able to connect to 4G LTE services by the end of 2012, expanding to 98% population coverage by 2014.

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Judging by the comments on this post, I really don't think the majority of people here understand why EE were given permission to launch 4G before everyone else, so i'll explain.

All the providers were waiting for the auction of the spectrum that is freed up by the decommissioning of analogue TV.

EE noticed that this was going to take a while but though, hmm, we have some 3G spectrum that we could spare and we could just use this for 4G instead, in the mean time.

EE then proposed this plan to OFCOM and they agreed that this would help bring 4G to the UK earlier and be beneficial to the consumer.

Any company could have come up with the same plan and proposed it to OFCOM and judging by the fact that EE was able to convince them, other providers would have got the same deal. If any of the other providers had shown the initiative that EE had then they wouldn't be behind now. Sadly they didn't and when they discovered that EE was doing this, they attempted to stop it... Very anti-consumer.

Hopefully that helps clear things up a bit.

I don't see this as a band thing. But at the same time I don't really care about 4G. Don't get me wrong its a good thing, but I think Ill wait for a year or two until its rolled out to all the networks before I look for a phone that has 4G. This is why I don't understand why people complain if a new phone doesn't have 4G most of the time 3G is good enough and until there's a national roll-out and it becomes the norm I don't see why people make such a fuss about not having it.

Richard Cousins said,
I don't see this as a band thing. But at the same time I don't really care about 4G. Don't get me wrong its a good thing, but I think Ill wait for a year or two until its rolled out to all the networks before I look for a phone that has 4G. This is why I don't understand why people complain if a new phone doesn't have 4G most of the time 3G is good enough and until there's a national roll-out and it becomes the norm I don't see why people make such a fuss about not having it.

Because most phone contracts are 2 years (at least they are in the UK) so if you buy a phone now without 4G, you're not gonna have it until the end of 2014, by which point EE have said that they plan to have 98% of the population covered. If you live in a city then coverage will likely be standard a lot sooner. I can completely understand why people would want 4G in their phone.

Also have you ever used 4G and compared it to 3G? Its like another world, it feels like you're using your home broadband connection.

So whilst the cities get 4G on the move, rural England still doesn't get broadband. Simultaneously EE have been allowed to jump the gun on 4G by OFCOM. And we are expected to see all of this as a good thing?

jamieakers said,
So whilst the cities get 4G on the move, rural England still doesn't get broadband. Simultaneously EE have been allowed to jump the gun on 4G by OFCOM. And we are expected to see all of this as a good thing?

Well companies usually think about the business side of thing. They'll make much more money focusing their funds within major cities than if they were to go to the countryside.
Though I do agree it's definitely not fair (even business wise) to let EE have full control of the 4G space for a while before others like Vodafone and O2 are allowed to start.

jamieakers said,
So whilst the cities get 4G on the move, rural England still doesn't get broadband. Simultaneously EE have been allowed to jump the gun on 4G by OFCOM. And we are expected to see all of this as a good thing?

its causes a lot of shifting though and the 4g rollout will speed up as a direct result of EE jumping the gun. At the end of the day we now have a 4g provider and the rollout from other companies should be quicker due to increased pressure to auction the spectrum faster.
I fail to see a negative.

jamieakers said,
So whilst the cities get 4G on the move, rural England still doesn't get broadband. Simultaneously EE have been allowed to jump the gun on 4G by OFCOM. And we are expected to see all of this as a good thing?
dw, you countryboys will get broadband eventually with this LTE network rolling out.

duddit2 said,

its causes a lot of shifting though and the 4g rollout will speed up as a direct result of EE jumping the gun. At the end of the day we now have a 4g provider and the rollout from other companies should be quicker due to increased pressure to auction the spectrum faster.
I fail to see a negative.

Just to make sure I've got this right - 4G is exclusive to one company. You fail to see how having no competition is a negative?!

jamieakers said,

Just to make sure I've got this right - 4G is exclusive to one company. You fail to see how having no competition is a negative?!

While I agree that giving EE a headstart is not "fair", i too think that EE having a headstart will help their rivals roll-out 4G with more urgency once the bandwidth auctions have been completed.

On the plus side, Ofcom has brought forward the date when other Networks (O2, Vodafone, Three etc.) can launch 4G to spring 2013. This still gives EE a 6 month headstart, but it wouldve been longer.

One can only hope that the fact that O2 have been installing 4G equipment into their masts for quite some time, they should just be able to "flick the switch" to enable it (at least in the major cities).

jamieakers said,

Just to make sure I've got this right - 4G is exclusive to one company. You fail to see how having no competition is a negative?!

On the contrary - why should one company who is already ready for "4G" be artificially held back by other companies that are not ready? It's not Everything Everywhere's fault that Vodafone, O2 and Three allocated so much 1800MHz spectrum to 3G that they can't reallocate it as needed. That's what happens to greed, you'll get exposed in the end.

jamieakers said,

Just to make sure I've got this right - 4G is exclusive to one company. You fail to see how having no competition is a negative?!

Way to misinterpret my comment. I said it will speed up 4G rollout as they are now putting more pressure on for the auctions, and as someone else has said why should they be artificially held back? They (EE) are ready with 4G now, no one is stopping the others they just have to wait for the spectrum auctions because they used up all their existing spectrum on their 3G services.
Having EE roll out 4G will speed up the rest, so everyone gets 4G faster and the other companies get to roll out 4G faster (then they would have don't were it not for the EE deal).
Of course if this was going to be a case of EE being granted exclusive rights and the other companies being artificially held back then I'd agree - but that's not the case.

jamieakers said,

Just to make sure I've got this right - 4G is exclusive to one company. You fail to see how having no competition is a negative?!

LOL, dude... If the other providers had created a plan for a 4G rollout using the current spectrum then they would have been allowed to jump the gun too. What do you want them to do prevent EE from innovating in order that everyone else who isnt can compete fairly? I mean there's trying to keep things fair and then there's blatent hindering of innovation because competing companies are too slow.

This is like saying that no one working for a company should get bonuses despite their hard work because most people havn't performed well. No... just give bonuses to the people who performed well.