UK’s First 4G Network, 4GEE, Goes Live In 11 Cities; 700 Orange, T-Mobile Stores Rebranded; 10,000 Staff Trained To Sell 4G

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It’s been a very long time coming but in the end 4G/LTE has arrived in the U.K. earlier than expected. Today EE, which owns the Orange and T-Mobile carrier brands, has flicked the switch — turning on 4G services in 11 UK cities. EE has also rebranded more than 700 Orange and T-Mobile stores as EE stores, on high streets across the country to start selling the new services to existing and new customers. The company says it has invested in employee training to get staff up to speed — with 10,000 “EE experts” now trained to focus on selling “specific [4G] handset types.”

In this, the first phase of EE’s network rollout, the 4G service goes live in Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. EE said it will expand the network coverage by 2,000 square miles every month, adding a further five cities before Christmas (Belfast, Derby, Hull, Newcastle, Nottingham). More cities and rural locations are planned for 2013, and EE expects to have 98 percent of the population covered by the end of 2014.

Typical download speeds on the network are expected to be five times higher than 3G speeds on average — ergo, around 8Mbps to 12Mbps on 4GEE. EE is touting the following capabilities for the network – albeit it has chosen to cap monthly data on all tariffs, so the more data you gobble the quicker you’ll burn through your limit (and the more you could end up spending on data add-ons):

•      Access the web on the go in an instant

•      Download large email attachments quicker than ever

•      Watch live TV on the move without buffering

•      Download high-definition movies in minutes

•      Play live multiplayer games on the go

•      Make high-quality video calls on the move

EE cites research it has conducted suggesting around three-quarters of U.K. businesses are planning to adopt 4G in the first year it’s available — with 74 percent of U.K. businesses intending to adopt 4G within a year, and 78 percent of London’s businesses. Companies based in Newcastle are the most keen on 4G, according to EE’s research, with 85 percent planning to adopt it within a year.

EE has also today launched a high-speed fibre broadband service — with download speeds of up to 76Mbps– available to 11 million premises from today.

Olaf Swantee, CEO at EE, said in a statement: “Today is a landmark day for our company, the UK mobile industry and, most importantly, the country’s businesses and consumers. But this is just the start as our 4G network will continue to grow stronger and wider by the day. We’re investing £1.5 billion in our network to be the first company to offer mobile 4G in the UK, alongside the biggest 3G network. Combined with our Fibre Broadband and revolutionary service model we have a pioneering and unique offer to customers across the UK – superfast speeds in the home, superfast speeds on the move and expert service on nearly every high street in Britain.”