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EE receives industry praise for well timed 4G LTE launch

Although Three claims it can do it better
Tue Sep 11 2012, 13:43
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INDUSTRY ANALYSTS have been quick to praise EE for bringing the first 4G LTE network to the UK, saying the mobile operator has done so with perfect timing.

Launched earlier today at an event in London, EE's 4G network will bring super-fast LTE speeds to 16 cities in time for Christmas and to 98 percent of the UK populace by 2014. What's more, the operator has announced a stellar line-up of LTE handsets, including the HTC One XL, Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia Lumia 920.

Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa said EE has picked a good time to launch its LTE services, as it will help it to compete with its big name rivals. He said, "It's a good time to be launching a new mobile brand in the UK. EE will, to all intents and purposes, be a new network but crucially, one which has excellent coverage to compete with the existing players. This is what has made it difficult for new operators like [Three] in the past."

However, Newman warned that the network will have to make sure that it doesn't let customers down with its promises of superfast speeds and quick rollout plans.

He added, "EE will have to be careful about over-promising on 4G capabilities particularly given that the network will only cover 30 percent of the population by the end of this year. It will need to strike a balance between extolling the virtues of 4G in terms of speed and latency while, at the same time, continuing to invest in, and market its 3G network capability."

Ovum analyst Matthew Howett also praised EE on the launch, but agreed with Newham in that its services must live up to customers' expectations.

"For it to be an attractive proposition for consumers, it requires a good degree of network coverage, an attractive range of handsets and easy-to-understand pricing. From what we learnt today, EE certainly seems to have done everything right on the first two, but pricing will not be known until the firm launches in a few weeks' time," Howett said.

Retailers have welcomed EE's move into 4G too. Scott Hooton, chief commercial officer at Phones 4U said, "The launch of EE the only brand in the UK to offer 4G mobile services, is a landmark development for the UK mobile industry.

"Consumers are definitely ready and waiting for 4G services; just last month three quarters of our customers said they're aware of 4G and believe it will give them improved internet and faster download speeds. 4G will benefit not only people looking to get better mobile speeds, but the advancement of mobile services and the growth of the digital economy."

Grapham Stapleton, chief commercial officer at Carphone Warehouse added, "The UK has lagged behind other countries in the development of 4G, which is why we very much welcome the launch of EE. 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."

Three, despite buying some of Everything Everywhere's 1,800MHz spectrum, doesn't seem overly thrilled by today's announcement, telling The INQUIRER that it will be able to match EE when its 4G services launch next year.

A spokesperson said, "We've got the network technology. We've got the spectrum. We've got the expertise. This is just a step up from what we are doing already and we'll launch as soon as we can next year."

EE's rival networks O2 and Vodafone, however, declined to comment on the news. µ


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