It's taken a long time to get here, but we're sure it'll be worth the wait. That's right, the 4G era is finally upon us, and for the time being at least, it goes by a name with just two letters: EE.
That's the name Everything Everywhere has chosen for its crisp new LTE infrastructure, combining the resources of both Orange and T-Mobile in a single new superfast 4G network.
The uber-network made its 4G rollout plans clear at a launch event in London this morning, and as expected the rebranding covers only the 4G service for now, leaving the existing Orange and T-Mobile non-4G infrastructures unchanged for now.
As far as the name goes, it's a sensible – and welcome – shortening of the overly cumbersome Everything Everywhere, a point EE CEO Olaf Swantee acknowledges, calling the new brand “a simple, visible signal to our customers”.
The 4G service will be switched on today in London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol, though only in testing mode while EE finds its feet. By Christmas, however, Swantee reckons a total of 16 cities will be chugging along on 4G speeds.
As for LTE-capable handsets, the network will offer seven launch devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S III and both handsets we've heard 4G rumours about recently, the Nokia Lumia 920 and the HTC One XL. Also getting the nod is the Nokia Lumia 820, plus the Huawei Ascend P1, while we believe the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will also be among the chosen few.
And you can stick your mortgage on the next iPhone also joining the fray after its announcement tomorrow. Swantee confirmed as much by saying: “and one more thing, we'll be announcing more devices shortly”, one of the most unsubtle hints we've come across for a long time.
EE reckons its initial efforts will make the magic of 4G available to 30% of the UK's population (provided they sign up, obviously), but plans to increase that coverage to 98% by the end of 2014.
Despite the traditional Orange and T-Mobile networks continuing seemingly unchanged, EE is subtly repositioning them to cut down on the amount of overlap between them.
Orange will be targeted at higher-value customers who want “more from their phone”, though we're not sure who doesn't want that, while T-Mobile will put the emphasis on those who want value for money, which again we'd say must surely be everybody. So long as it makes sense to them...