Everything Everywhere – the UK’s largest mobile operator and a joint venture of Orange and T-Mobile – today pledged to launch LTE services in 16 cities by Christmas.
UK regulator Ofcom allowed the operator to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for early LTE services, and today has switched on LTE in London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham for testing, in readiness for customer launch “in the coming weeks.”
Their LTE network is expected to cover a third of the UK population in 2012 (over 20 million people), with 2013 population coverage to reach 70 percent, and 98 percent in 2014. The 16 cities to be connected by the end of this year are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
The carrier’s initial LTE smartphones will include Samsung’s Galaxy SIII, the new Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 handsets, the HTC One XL and Huawei’s Ascend P1. A new iPhone-5 may be added to this list should Apple announce support tomorrow for the 1800MHz band.
A corresponding fixed-line fiber broadband service will be available to 11 million households and businesses by the end of the year, reaching two-thirds of the population by the end of 2014. The high speed fiber service is under a wholesale agreement with BT.
EE’s chief rivals O2 and Vodafone were initially angered by Ofcom’s decision to give EE a headstart in launching LTE, but the Financial Times today reports that EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 have signed a stand-still agreement that will prevent any legal action for a month while talks are held to help all proceed with 4G plans.
Ofcom’s auction of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum is expected to take place in December.
United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:
- Everything Everywhere: 27.2 million subs, owned by France Télécom aka Orange (50%) and Deutsche Telekom (50%).
- O2: 22.3 million subs, owned by Telefónica, a Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider
- Vodafone: 19.2 million subs, owned by Vodafone, headquartered in London.
- 3: 8.2 million subs, owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa
Their extensive 1,500 small cell deployment in the London Olympic Village uses Alcatel-Lucent metrocells and open access indoor femtocells to achieve an astonishing throughput of 1 Gbit/s per square kilometre. O2 claims to have built, “the biggest small network in the world“, using both small cells and 14,000 Wi-Fi access points.
Based on Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadiotechnology, Telefonica’s network brings small-cell base stations closer to the customer, even on lampposts. As a strong supporter for Telefonica’s LTE service initiative, Samsung is planning LTE GALAXY smartphones and Tablets for band 7 (2.6Mhz).
The UK’s smallest operator, 3, benefited from a divestment was part of the regulatory conditions imposed on the merger between Orange UK and T-Mobile UK that created Everything Everywhere in 2010.
Everything Everywhere sold a chunk of its 1800MHz spectrum to 3 UK in a deal that could enable 3 to launch its own LTE service.
Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing LTE market. If you add the 8.4 LTE subs from South Korea and another 8 million or so from Japan, their total LTE subscriber count may exceed that of the United States. A contract to supply TD-LTE handsets for China Mobile would be huge for any smartphone vendor.
LTE worldwide subscriber rolls are expected to quadruple this year and increase by a factor of 70 by 2016, according iSuppli.
Verizon has over 10 million LTE subs in the U.S., with LTE now available to more than 75% of the U.S. in 370 markets. By the end of 2012 Verizon expects their LTE network will cover 260 million people in more than 400 markets across the United States.
Related Dailywireless articles include; Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, LTE iPhone: Game Changer?, Hong Kong: Dual-band LTE, Software Defined, Japan & Korea: More LTE than USA, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,