Britain’s largest mobile operator is to invest £1.5bn to improve its mobile network and prepare for 4G
Everything Everywhere, the parent company of Orange UK and T-Mobile, has announced a heavy investment of its two networks as it seeks to improve 3G services and prepare for the arrival of 4G.
Dubbed as a “network evolution programme”, Everything Everywhere said that it would spend more than £1.5bn over the next three years to build a “world class data network and industry leading coverage footprint for consumers and businesses across the UK”.
According to the operator the investment funding will help improve network speed, reliability and coverage, and will also help it implement 4G ready technology following successful trials. It will also accelerate the integration of the T-Mobile and Orange mobile networks.
Mobile Data Strain
“With mobile data increasing 250 percent over the past two years, we are making these investments so we can deliver on our ambition to provide the UK’s most reliable, biggest and best mobile data network,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of Everything Everywhere.
“We believe that the UK requires a 21st century infrastructure and are committed to rolling out 4G as soon as possible to support growing data use, connect parts of the country with little or no mobile broadband, and drive economic growth,” he added.
Everything Everywhere, which only last month agreed new banking facilities to refinance debts owed to its parent companies, will continue to integrate its two networks throughout 2012. The company said it is in the final stages of “the big switch on” (that is, allowing Orange and T-Mobile customers to use 2G and 3G signals from either network).
It added that, in the first half of 2012, the devices of Orange and T-Mobile customers’ will automatically select the stronger signal from either network if their own signal is weak. The company will also begin a phased programme to streamline network sites, which will reduce its carbon footprint.
Merger Of Equals?
Everything Everywhere was formed in July 2010 following the merger of UK networks Orange and T-Mobile, which gave the new company a 37 percent market share, or over half the UK population.
The merger was viewed as an equal partnership, but recent job cuts and a shakeup in the management team means that not a single T-Mobile executive remains on the board, adding to the argument that, in reality, the merger was effectively an Orange takeover.
The operator has also been busy testing Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology in Cornwall, where it is working with BT to bridge unserved regions, the so-called broadband ‘not spots’, in rural areas.
In October the policy advisory group Open Digital, warned that British businesses will lose up to £732 million a year because of the delay in rolling out 4G mobile broadband. There is little doubt that the UK is lagging badly in the 4G deployment stakes, after the world’s first LTE network deployments took place in Oslo and Stockolm four years ago.
Meanwhile an Ofcom report in November revealed the poor state of mobile network coverage in the UK. It found that only 66 percent of the total British landmass can receive a 2G signal from all four 2G networks. 3G coverage is significantly worse with just 13 percent of the landmass receiving a signal from all five 3G networks.