On 21 August 2012, Ofcom approved Everything Everywhere's request to use its surplus capacity to launch 4G services within the UK. The announcement was initially expected to allow Orange and T-Mobile customers to use the new 4G network, however the company did not immediately release specific details about how they would launch the proposition and which, if either of the two existing brands customers, would benefit from the approval.
The company announced on 11 September 2012 that the EE brand would be used to identify its network on all of the company's devices (EE, Orange and T-Mobile), alongside its 4G service and the company's fibre optic broadband roll-out. The brand was described by EE as The Super Fast Brand.
It was also confirmed that all ex-Orange and ex-T Mobile shops would be re-branded EE overnight, but that mobile products would continue to be sold under those brands inside the stores.
At the end of October 2012, EE became the first network to offer 4G services in the UK, the world's fourth largest mobile broadband industry. Since then, the company has expanded its coverage to over 50 cities nationwide.
There are two main variations of current technology that can be classed as 4G: Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), the latter having been superseded by the former in key telecoms markets, such as the US. Although being first-to-market, the company has priced 4G at a premium, and uptake has not been overly dramatic amongst consumers.
The recent results of Ofcom's long delayed 4G spectrum auction has meant that competitors will be looking to release their own 4G LTE services by the end of 2013, but EE has leveraged its head start well in order to establish its brand and network to protect its future revenues.
All four networks - EE, O2, Vodafone and Three - won a slice of 4G spectrum during Ofcom's auction in February. BT also unexpectedly took part, winning spectrum to boost its existing home broadband services.
While most have been pretty quiet about their 4G launch plans so far, others have offered bits of information. Vodafone has confirmed that it will roll out its new 4G LTE network in the United Kingdom this summer, ready for a launch "later this year."
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