After a much-lamented delay, Britain has finally caught up to dozens of other countries with the launch of its first 4G mobile network.
EE has today switched on superfast mobile data for consumers and businesses in 11 major UK cities, six months before other mobile operators are expected to begin delivering their own 4G services. Consumers in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton will be the first with access to the network, with the service due to be operational in five more cities by the end of the year and nationwide coverage set to increase by 2,000 square miles every month.
EE was granted permission by Ofcom to launch the network ahead of rivals O2 and Vodafone, who bid for their own slice of the spectrum during the 4G auction at the end of the year.
4G service is estimated to be five times faster than 3G, with EE promising to deliver Internet speeds of 8 - 12 Mbps to customers who sign up, meaning activities like streaming high-definition video and downloading large files on mobile devices will become significantly quicker.
The network has also launched a fibre broadband service that will be available to 11 million homes and businesses, promising speeds of up to 76 Mbps - potentially ten times faster than conventional broadband services.
“We’re investing £1.5 billion in our network to be the first company to offer mobile 4G in the UK, alongside the biggest 3G network. Combined with our Fibre Broadband and revolutionary service model we have a pioneering and unique offer to customers across the UK – superfast speeds in the home, superfast speeds on the move and expert service on nearly every high street in Britain,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.
The company has also officially launched its new branding, with 700 T-Mobile and Orange retail stores overhauled across the UK.
Tariffs for the 4G service will range from £36 per month for 500MB of data to £56 for 8GB of data. For more information, check out our roundup of devices that will be compatible with the service and our guide to everything you need to know about the 4G upgrade.