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Olaf Swantee: Leader of the 4G revolution

Olaf Swantee, former CEO of EE, recently co-authored a book on EE’s creation and the launch of its 4G network. Land Mobile hears his advice on managing mergers, getting people on board, and what the future could hold for the firm

It’s not every day you get to talk to someone who presided over the creation of a company that gets snapped up by BT for £12.5 billion. However, Olaf Swantee comes across warmly over the phone (these days he’s rarely in the UK) and before long it feels like more of a relaxed conversation with someone you’ve known for a long time than an interview.

Not one to sit idly, Swantee has kept himself busy since leaving EE by co-authoring The 4G Mobile Revolution, which (for a book about a large-scale joint venture) is something of a page-turner. Despite being a book about the telecoms sector there’s more business jargon than RF acronyms – but don’t let that put you off. Swantee and co-author Stuart Jackson’s insights into how EE launched its now near-ubiquitous 4G network are revealing.

So what surprised Swantee most about how EE’s competition responded to its 4G roll-out? “[Our competitors] tried to delay the launch... through legal routes and I think that didn’t work very well. Afterwards they started to compete with products and technologies and their rollouts…. In the beginning they said 4G was not very important, and then when they had their own network they switched gears and said that it was very important.

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