EE has been the UK champion when it comes to 4G, offering the first 4G signal in the British Isles over 12 months before any other network. Three, on the other hand, are yet to offer 4G in any UK city. Until now. In a deal which will see EE and Three share 4G networks to become the biggest 4G conglomerate in the UK.
EE and Three to Share 4G:
It will cost £1.5Bn, but a deal that will see EE and Three share 4G networks has been agreed between the two companies. This isn’t an unusual move. Three already had a network share deal with T-Mobile before the latter joined Orange to become the massive network that is EE. This deal clearly left a good impression as they are to continue the same practice, this time with their 4G network.
EE already has the biggest 4G network in the UK, dwarfing those of Vodafone and O2. EE have even gone further to start the first 4G+ network in London for companies in a certain area. Three, on the other hand, have only got 4G in London, Birmingham and Manchester, focusing instead on strengthening their 3G network. They even went so far as to say they were offering 3.9G, with speeds just shy of 4G (which, oddly enough, EE complained about and Ofcom ruled that Three couldn’t use that terminology).
No deals have yet been released by either company, but we imagine this will take place once Three get their own 4G network off the ground, at which point customers on either network will be able to use either Three or EE 4G network, depending on location (just like EE customers used Orange and T-Mobile networks just after the merge). For Three customers, this means they will be able to use 4G in nearly 70% of the UK out of the gate. For EE customers, they’ll be able to get 4G in a couple more locations, or a better signal in current locations, till Three’s 4G network expands.
One point made by the FT (article behind paywall) is the way both companies go about viewing 4G. Currently, EE customers have to pay a premium to get on the 4G network (currently £2 – their cheapest 4G plan is 500MB, 1000 minutes and unlimited texts for £47.99/month). Three, on the other hand, have claimed that any customer with a valid 4G ready phone will be able to use the network as soon as it’s ready for no extra cost. But then look at who’s got the bigger 4G network.
EE and Vodafone to bring 4G to Eurotunnel:
In related news, EE and Vodafone have announced they plan to bring 2G, 3G and, ultimately, 4G speeds to the Eurotunnel. This won’t be a joint venture like EE and Three to share 4G, but rather you’ll be able to access either your Vodafone or EE mobile signals on the 35 minute trip under the Channel. This is following the French networks Bouygue, SFR and Orange, who have already had this running for the last a couple of years. Both vodafone and EE have said they are ready to switch on 2G and 3G speeds by March. EE have predicted to turn 4G on by Summer this year (no date specified though). Vodafone couldn’t be so sure, which isn’t a surprise as they only launched their 4G network within the last 6 months. Neither network would comment on speeds of the 4G network they plan. But remember, this is getting a telephone signal to work 100Km under the English Channel, which in itself is a great feat.
The downside? That 35 minutes where you could be assured a quiet moment to yourself is soon at an end.