EE extends headstart by rolling out 4G service in 17 more cities

THE UK’S biggest mobile network operator, EE, will double the number of cities that its 4G service covers next spring.

The move will extend the company’s headstart on Vodafone and O2, which will not be able to launch their own high-speed mobile internet services until early summer.

EE said yesterday it would bring 4G to an extra 17 areas, including St Albans, Reading and Watford, by March. This will extend the service’s reach to an extra 4m people across 35 cities.

Rival networks will not be able to launch 4G services until early summer, following an Ofcom-run auction of 4G-approved mobile spectrum. Applications for the auction were submitted this week, with the UK’s four major operators – O2, Vodafone, EE and Three – as well as BT, entering.

EE, which runs Orange and T-Mobile as well its own self-branded service, won approval to use spectrum it already owned for 4G earlier this year. The clearance angered rival operators and gave EE a headstart of around eight months. The service launched in October, backed by an extensive advertising campaign.

“We’re delighted with the progress of the 4G rollout,” EE’s chief executive Olaf Swantee said.