Slow Start for Fast 4GEE – Stores Closed and No 4G Demo!

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!  

Welcome to the 4G revolution and launch of EE!!

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.

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4G Launch Plan Announced by Everything Everywhere – 3G Déjà vu?

Olaf Swantee, head honcho at Everything Everywhere, today formally announced the launch of 4G mobile phone services from the company that comprises the Orange and T-Mobile brands. 

16 cities will have 4G access by the end of this year with 98% 4G coverage (population coverage rather than landmass coverage) promised by 2014.  The following 4 cities are set to roll out 4G coverage in the next few weeks:

Everything Everywhere now rebranded as EE - I kid you not

  • London
  • Birmingham
  • Cardiff
  • Bristol
Whilst these 12 cities should get 4G before the end of the year:
  • Belfast
  • Derby
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow 
  • Hull
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Nottingham 
  • Newcastle
  • Sheffield 
  • Southampton

4G will be launched under a new brand that replaces Everything Everywhere.  The brand agency must have spent literally minutes (and hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees) coming up with this one.  Wait for it…  ‘Everything Everyone’ will become ‘EE’. Jubilympics anyone?

The launch announcement itself made me feel a strong sensation of déjà vu.  The main benefits of 4G, according to Olaf, included watching live tv (without buffering), downloading email attachments quicker than ever and video conferencing on the move. Isn’t that exactly what the operators promised us all in fantastical ad campaigns back at the launch of 3G in the UK nearly ten years ago?

It actually took several more years and the launch of the iPhone to deliver the breakthrough moment in the adoption of data-rich applications on a mobile phone – the smartphone era. And don’t forget… the original iPhone was actually a 2G product – it didn’t even have 3G.

Don’t get carried away with hype. 4G is a good step forward and it will become the norm in the next five years but it’s an evolutionary step forwards not a revolutionary change for us normos.  

Oh, and if EE expects everyone to bin their iPhone’s and Androids in favour of a Nokia Lumia to get 4G access… they really are back in the land of 3G fantasy.  

T-Mobile & Orange customers to benefit as Everything Everywhere extends the “Big Switch-On”

Everything Everywhere has recently said that millions of UK mobile customers will benefit from their mobile network evolution plan at no extra cost, enabling customers to get faster internet and data speeds, in a great number of locations.

Launched last year, the “big switch-on” allowed millions of Orange and T-Mobile customers to make calls, and send messages from more places than before by using each other’s networks. The next stage of the roll-out, the “big 3G switch-on”, will happen next week, allowing millions of customers to have faster internet and data access, across more of the UK, than was previously available.

T-Mobile & Orange customers to benefit as Everything Everywhere extends the “Big Switch-On”
T-Mobile & Orange customers to benefit as Everything Everywhere extends the “Big Switch-On”

Orange customers and T-Mobile customers already have access to each other’s networks, which has seen 5 billion texts being sent and received and an incredible 1.7 million days worth of calls being made on each other’s networks.

The CEO of Everything Everywhere, Olaf Swantee said: “This is a significant achievement and demonstrates the latest milestone in our network vision and customer promise – to provide more things, to more people in more places than any other company in Britain.

Customers are always on the move and demanding instant access to information wherever they are. Not only will customers be able to talk in places they weren’t able to before, they’ll also now be able to access the internet, social networks or download emails at improved speeds, in more places.”

As of next week, region by region the 3G switch-on will start to roll out, for all Orange and T-Mobile customers. But do note that all charges to other networks will still remain the same.

Click here to find out more about Everything Everywhere.

Everything Everywhere together with BT Wholesale are starting a 4G live trial

EverythingEverywhere and BT Wholesale have announced the first ever live trial of the next generation 4G LTE broadband. This live trial has begun in Cornwall, and will run until early next year. The trial attracted over 400 residents, to register, following a number of home visits and workshops to familiarise them with the technology, as well as the test conditions.

Everything Everywhere joins forces with BT Wholesale
Everything Everywhere joins forces with BT Wholesale

The testing of an LTE solution is the world’s first, which can be deployed to fixed line and mobile customers. The whole point of all this testing is to find out if it is possible for two service providers to manage and share valuable radio resources. The field trial will find otu what the trialists experienced, and find out what are realistic 4G LTE speeds, and also to see what the mobile broadband data service conditions are like in rural areas.

The CEO at Everything Everywhere, Olaf Swantee, said:  “Soon, more people will be accessing the internet on their mobile devices than on their PCs, and that means we need the right kind of networks in place to deliver the right kind of experience for our customers. That’s why, as the UK’s largest communications company, we are leading the development and introduction of new technologies like 4G. This next generation mobile network will allow individuals and businesses across Britain to access the people, places and things they want, wherever they are, whenever they want – and it will be faster and easier than ever before.”

Data speeds tend to vary because of a number of factors. Physicals factors such as the distance from the mast, how thick the building is, and where it is located, as well as the number of people using the network. The trial will help find out how this LTE technology performs in real life conditions.

Everything Everywhere – Orange and T-Mobile join networks

Ok, so I’m a little slow on the uptake with this one but it’s still worth mentioning because it’s a great benefit, and it’s free! The UK merger of Orange and T-Mobile has progressed to the point where they are now allowing their customers to access both mobile networks. Loads of extra coverage for free!

Basically, if you lose coverage on your normal mobile network you will be able to pick up a signal from the other network, assuming they have coverage in that area.  It’s a bit like roaming but within the UK – and without the obscene charges!

This is great news if you’re on Orange or T-Mobile and your mobile coverage is a little patchy where you live, work or regularly visit.

However you must register with your network in order to be able to benefit from this great extra service.

Orange customers need to sign up at  Orange Share.

T-Mobile customers need to sign up at T-Mobile Share.

If you’re a customer of either network sign up now! If you’re looking to sign up for a new phone contract then perhaps this will persuade you that the Orange or T-Mobile are the best for you?

Let me know your thoughts by adding a comment below!