Everything Everywhere is planning to deploy 4G into the UK by the end of 2012, but mostly just to remind everyone how much it is investing in UK infrastructure.
The switch to HSPA+, which will see those nearest the transmitters doubling their 3G connection speeds, will happen in the next six months or so, and, if Ofcom will let it, then EE will start deploying 4G (LTE) technology into the 1800MHz band it already owns by the end of the year, in Bristol at least.
It probably won't be the first LTE service launched in the UK, but it will likely be the first one to offer mobility and the first from a cellular operator. Although competitors will point out that EE can do this thanks to its huge spectrum holdings – a portfolio so large than that it is being forced to sell of at least 30MHz of it just to avoid unfair market dominance.
That auction is one of the reasons EE is so keen to tell us about its spending – apparently it is investing £1.4m every day on improving its network infrastructure. It's keen to highlight that, as the operator is under fire over its plans to make something in the region of £400m selling off that 30MHz of spectrum which was allocated to it back in the days when one didn't buy frequencies.
So France Telecom and Deutsche Telecom – joint owners of EE – will be making money from something they were given by the UK government.
But if EE can show it is spending that money improving UK infrastructure then it undermines the outrage one might feel, and gets EE into the lead for 4G deployments.
The Bristol LTE will be slotted into 1800MHz, a band which isn't being widely used for LTE. That's in contrast to the 800MHz band, which is allocated for LTE in Europe, or the 2.6GHz band which is globally recognised as LTE-friendly, but neither of those will come up for auction until the end of 2012 at best. So EE will have some challenges sourcing devices able to make use of its early deployment.
Which means using USB dongles and fixed-access points, rather than connecting handsets or embedding in tablets, but it should still be fast and that's to be appreciated – even if we're all paying for it in the end. ®