EE, the newly formed UK division of Everything Everywhere, is the only mobile operator in the UK to operate the 1800Mhz 4G LTE band that is compatible with Apple’s latest mobile device.
Ofcom granted EE permission to deliver 4G services over its 1800Mhz band last month, saying that to delay doing so would be to the “detriment” of consumers.
Everything Everywhere, the owner of the T-Mobile and Orange networks, is in the process of selling part of its 4G band to mobile operator Three. If it went ahead, the deal would make Three the only other mobile operator in the UK to offer 4G services compatible with Apple’s new iPhone.
Ofcom is set to auction two other bands of 4G mobile spectrum – the 800 Mhz and 2.6 GHz bands already deployed across most of Europe – early next year. While these bands will work with a variety of handsets running 4G, the iPhone 5 will remain incompatible.
As a result, all other operators, including O2 and Vodafone, will be unable to offer the iPhone 5 with 4G availability.
“iPhone 5 currently only supports 4G on the 1800Mhz spectrum,” said an O2 spokesman. “However, by the time 4G becomes an all-operator service and is available to everyone in the UK, we would expect a whole range of new devices to have launched that support all UK 4G network frequencies.
“We will also be selling devices at the end of this year that will be compatible with all 4G frequencies so they will work on our network from launch. However, our new 4G Handset Promise means that customers who purchase an iPhone 5 and then want to change to a 4G phone next year can upgrade mid-way through their contract.”
O2 has not yet revealed what its minimum contract length will for the iPhone 5.
Everything Everywhere unveiled its new UK company and brand, EE, earlier this week. The mobile operator plans to make 4G available in 16 by Christmas, starting with London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham.
EE will begin to offer the iPhone 5 with 4G connectivity to UK customers from 21 September.