Everything Everywhere Switches on 4G, Launches EE
Given that Everything Everywhere – which is the parent company of Orange and T-Mobile – has always been a bit of a mouthful and that in the recent deluge of stories regarding the company we've often ended up referring to it as EE anyway, that might not seem like a particularly big deal, but, according to CEO Olaf Swantee at this morning's press conference, it's a new company, a new network, and a new brand.
EE is turning on its 4G network in four UK cities – London, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Bristol – for live testing today. Once the test period is over, it will be rolled out into those cities, with 12 more – Edinburgh, Belfast, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Newcastle, Southampton, Hull, Nottingham and Derby – promised by Christmas.
It'll be the fastest roll-out of mobile technology in the UK ever, according to Swantee, covering 70 per cent of the population by the end of 2013, and 98 per cent by 2014.
The launch of EE doesn't, as we predicted a couple of months back, combine Orange and T-Mobile into a single brand, but rather adds a third brand to Everything Everywhere's roster. The UK's 700 Orange and T-Mobile stores will be rebranded as EE stores, which will push products from all three brands – it sounds like it could get very confusing for the consumer.
Swantee established how the brands are differentiated: “EE is for customers who want superfast acccess wherever they are. Orange is for customers who want more from their phones – rewards and the fastest 3G connections. T-Mobile is for customers who want straight-forward value.”
With EE being the only operator in the UK, and the only one of the three brands, offering 4G, it looks as though it's meant to be the luxury offering, and presumably the most expensive. For all Swantee repeatedly insisted that “Orange and T-Mobile will continue to thrive”, this raises some questions about the place of the other two brands going forward, as they're left behind by EE's superfast connection.