The question has to be asked whether Olaf Swantee, CEO of the newly branded EE, is a messiah for UK technology or has executed a masterstroke in outmanoeuvring his rivals. Or possibly, as others have put it, he’s either a very good CEO or just a very lucky one. Whatever you think, he has secured a once-in-a-lifetime advantage for the UK’s largest operator, particularly after some key manufacturers confirmed they would be running their latest devices on EE’s 4G network.
Let’s face it, from day one Swantee has pursued a very hard agenda and used 4G as a totem to gather his troops and investment around. EE’s ‘4G Britain’ campaign and its various LTE trials around the country must have pleased not only Ofcom but also the Government. Ofcom was able to pinpoint one operator that was ready to support and move ahead with its agenda. And with the stance some of his rivals were taking, Swantee must have sensed he had a chance with the regulator. The execution of his vision has certainly impressed the industry.
Meanwhile, EE’s VP of brand and communications Steven Day has been widely commended for relaying the operator’s 4G message so effectively. He has put 4G on the lips of bloggers, tech journos and key figures within the industry.
So now Swantee has persuaded Ofcom, what will the strategic impact be for EE? Its shareholders must also see the latest moves as an opportunity to capitalise – could the company now be floated – or even sold?
According to his recent 4G announcement, the plan is to roll out the service to 16 cities, which certainly shows Swantee’s intent. Coverage in some of these areas could be patchy, but London will be key. At the moment, Swantee is being viewed as the man who came, saw and conquered the 4G cause. However, let’s not be fooled. EE will now also enjoy the benefits of having a great network that has left its rivals scrambling for a position in the 4G market.