Everything Everywhere has switched on its 4G network, with 16 cities to have access to next generation services by the end of the year, and rebranded itself as EE.
The operator will rename its 700 Orange, T-Mobile and Everything Everywhere branches as part of the rebranding. EE will be its consumer and business brand for 4G new fibre broadband services.
London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham's 4G networks were switched on today for live testing and systems integration. EE will add 12 cities by the end of this year, aiming to cover a third of the population, or 20 million people. By 2013, 70% of the UK will be connected to 4G and 98% by 2014. EE said this is the fastest rollout of next generation technology worldwide. No release date for the consumer and business launch of 4G was revealed but EE said it would be in 'the coming weeks'
Five 4G handsets will go onsale - Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, Nokia Lumia 820 and 920, the HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. Huawei will also provide a mobile Wi-Fi unit, allowing five devices to connect to a 4G network, and a mobile broadband stick. The next iPhone, which will be revealed tomorrow, could be another 4G device. In a nod to how former Apple CEO Steve Jobs use to close his device presentations, EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: 'One more thing, we will be announcing more devices very shortly.'
EE will target the fibre broadband service initially at 11m households but it aims to reach two thirds of UK households and businesses by the end of 2014.
The rebranding will mean Orange and T-Mobile products and services will be sold in the new EE stores, meaning there will be no dedicated Orange and T-Mobile shops on the high street. There will be no changes to existing customers' price plans and it is expected they will be among the first customers to be able to upgrade to 4G.
Olaf Swantee, EE CEO, said: 'Today we launch a new company, a new network and a new brand for Britain. Our plans to revolutionise the UK communications market with a faster network and an exciting new brand for the digital age are built on solid investment and a simple belief that customers deserve better.
'We look forward to connecting the country with superfast mobile speeds in the coming weeks, months and years. And it starts today, with the announcement of our new business, our new brand and a new digital infrastructure that our company, our customers and the country can be proud of.'
Editor: Graeme Neill