Everything Everywhere’s promise to deliver an LTE service to 16 UK cities by the end of the year remains, as yet, just a promise. But, if it comes to fruition, it will represent the overcoming of a number of obstacles.
The company, which is keen to be known by its shortened name of EE, is now testing its 4G service in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Cardiff and plans to add 12 more cities to that later. This is despite its competitors toying with legal action to try to prevent this, the readiness or otherwise of the company’s base stations, whether 4G will sit next to 2G without causing problems and the fact that Ofcom is not the world’s speediest organisation.
“Anybody with any experience of radiocommunications knows that nothing moves fast when a regulator is involved,” notes managing director, Cyprien de Cosson. “That’s not surprising as regulators have a huge range of factors to consider in all licence allocation. But, what it represents is yet another issue EE is going to have to deal with. It will be interesting to see how this develops.”
Cyprien points out that nobody in the UK has yet tried to deliver 4G services in a spectrum band next to one now occupied by a 2G network. “All new services need expert planning and modelling,” Cyprien says, “and that is particularly pertinent when everybody is on unfamiliar ground. There are a lot of technical issues here.”
EE owns the Orange and T-Mobile networks but these names will gradually be replaced by the EE brand. EE engineers began testing the company’s 4G services in the 1800MHz band on September 11.
O2 and Vodaphone are eager to also provide 4G services and have instigated and now suspended legal action to prevent EE’s plans going ahead. The UK government has said any internecine legal action in the industry would be mutual destruction and last week called the chief executives of all the main players for talks aimed at cooling the situation.