Today is the BIG DAY! 4G went live in the UK on EE, the lovechild of Orange and T-Mobile so I popped to my local High Street in London to get a demo to see just how fast it really is and came back home none the wiser…
EE promises that 4G is going to be five times faster than 3G, subject I’m sure to plenty of small print about 4G coverage variations, the device you’re using and so on. I for one expect to see evidence of this before switching networks and shelling out on a 4G phone or 4G mobile wifi contract.
First of all I rocked up to the local Orange store, now hastily and cheaply rebranded in grey as an EE store with Orange listed as a sub-brand, to find it closed due to ‘refurbishment’. I later found out that it was closed due to it’s EE stock and sales collateral having not turned up!
Thankfully, in the crazy three brand world of EE, Orange and T-Mobile there was a T-Mobile store only a few doors away so I trudged along to see if they could show me the wonders of 4GEE. This store is also now an EE store, with some small T-Mobile co-branding on the fascia and thankfully it was open. I walked in to find the staff in their fresh new EE uniform and some indication that EE has actually launched but alas… no demo products on display!!
When I asked the staff they said they did have stock to sell of 4G mobiles and mobile broadband products but that the demo SIMs hadn’t yet arrived. An electrician was also due to set up the demo units later in the day. The best they could offer was a demo of a 4G phone over the 3G network. Obviously a pointless exercise.
They hoped to have demo products available during the afternoon but I’m not confident enough to bother heading back into town given the completely underwhelming performance of EE/T-Mobile/Orange so far.
The poor staff are not to blame and they were very apologetic. They also seemed to be struggling to understand the confusing array of tariffs, handsets and offers that now cover two or three different brands. Head office has really let them down.
Contrast this to the slick product launches we see on a regular basis for Apple and this seems particularly shambolic. 4G has been promoted as a huge step change in the backbone of the mobile industry, particularly by EE – the main reason for the new brand even existing.
You’d expect a bigger fanfare for the biggest step in mobile data speeds in nearly a decade. I’m thinking red carpets, a massage whilst you sign up and staff carrying by out of the shop with my new purchase. Pleasing the early adopters is crucial to get speedy wider take up and brand advocacy for a new tech product. Instead I found stores closed, demo products missing and embarrassed staff having to turn away potential customers.
I’m left pondering what EE really stands for – Everything Everywhere it certainly is not.
What do you think of the EE4G launch? Will you be getting 4G? Let us know by adding a comment below.