Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE) (DTE) and France Telecom SA (FTE) (FTE)’s U.K. mobile-phone venture will become the first local operator to offer faster data services as it starts a 4G network in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol.
The company will offer the faster mobile Web services on its current airwaves under the EE brand, which is also the new name of the Everything Everywhere venture. The company plans to offer 4G services in 16 British cities by Christmas, it said in a statement today. The new service is five times faster than is currently available, EE said.
EE, the country’s largest wireless operator, got regulatory approval this year to use licenses in the 1,800 megahertz spectrum to deliver the faster connections, giving it a head start on Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) (VOD) and Telefonica SA (TEF), which are waiting for more frequencies to become available at an auction before starting their own faster services.
EE said it will start the service and give pricing details in coming weeks. The operator will offer five 4G handsets from companies including Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co.
The auction of 800 MHz and 2,600 MHz frequencies is set to begin later this year, allowing a general rollout of faster data services in 2013, regulator Ofcom has said.
EE said today it plans to cover 98 percent of the U.K. population with its 4G network by the end of 2014. While the company will continue to offer phone services under Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile and France Telecom’s Orange brands, EE will drop their titles from the shopfronts.
“I always found it difficult to live with the old name,” EE Chief Executive Officer Olaf Swantee told journalists today. “EE is shorter, it’s snappier.”
France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom endorse the new brand strategy and are committed to the business and its ownership structure, EE said. In February, people with knowledge of the matter said that Deutsche Telekom was evaluating options for selling its 50 percent stake in the British venture.
“We believe there is a great opportunity for an exciting new brand and welcome the introduction of 4G services in the U.K.,” Deutsche Telekom Chief Financial Officer Timotheus Hoettges said today.
Swantee said the company is still committed to spending 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) over three years to cope with soaring demand for mobile Web services.
EE said it will also offer fixed-line fiber services by accessing the network of BT Group Plc. (BT/A)
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Browning in London at email@example.com