Everything Everywhere (EE), the joint venture between UK mobile network operators Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, has refuted suggestions that it is planning to drop its existing brands, although it has reportedly confirmed that it is aiming to introduce a third consumer brand that will exist alongside them. According to Marketing Week, the new brand is expected to be launched later this year, but EE has not revealed the name nor the target market yet, although it has confirmed that it will not use the Everything Everywhere name for this purpose. Mat Sears, head of PR and corporate communications for Everything Everywhere was cited as saying: ‘We’ve made the announcement today ahead of schedule to respond to concerns from customers that we are replacing both brands. We’re aiming to launch the new brand later this year and will position it alongside our existing Orange and T-Mobile brands, despite reports today that we’ll be scrapping them both. It will not replace them.’
In separate but related news, British broadsheet The Daily Telegraph reports that the UK’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers, Hutchison 3G UK (H3G UK), which offer services under the ‘Three (3)’ banner, has agreed to acquire a block of 1800MHz spectrum from EE. The sale is in line with EE plans to offer 25% of its 1800MHz allocation to a rival, which was a condition of the French-German parent companies’ UK business merger under European Commission stipulations. Commenting on the matter, an Everything Everywhere spokesperson noted: ‘As part of the commitments given when the European Commission approved the merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK in March 2010, Everything Everywhere was required to divest 2X15MHz of its 1800MHz spectrum … In accordance with these commitments, Everything Everywhere has today announced an agreement with Three to transfer this 2×15MHz of its 1800MHz spectrum to Three. Ofcom and the European Commission will review whether the divestment satisfies the merger commitments, and a response is expected within the next three months.’
The two developments cap a busy two days for EE. As reported by CommsUpdate, UK telecoms regulator Ofcom yesterday confirmed it had approved an application made by EE in which the latter sought permission to refarm its existing spectrum in the 1800MHz band in order to offer Long Term Evolution-based (LTE-based) services. With the watchdog confirming that it had issued varied licences to the operator which authorise it to inaugurate LTE services from 11 September 2012, it noted that following a consultation on the operator’s request it had concluded that varying EE’s existing 1800MHz concession would ‘deliver significant benefits to consumers’, while also noting that it saw ‘no material risk that those benefits will be outweighed by a distortion of competition’.