EE has confirmed the launch date for its 4G services as 30 October 2012, which will make it the first operator to offer the faster mobile connectivity in the UK.
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The announcement was made by the company’s CEO, Olaf Swantee, who called the launch “a significant milestone for the United Kingdom and for the people and businesses of our country.”
However, it will only initially be available in 10 cities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield – with a further six – Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton – to be added by the end of the year.
EE does have a long-term plan to “follow rapidly” in order to bring 4G to 98% of the country by the end of 2014 though, and has pledged the roll-out will include a number of rural areas.
Details of the tariffs and upgrade options have also yet to be announced, but chief architect at EE, David Salam, confirmed to Computer Weekly that existing customers would have the opportunity to upgrade their current contracts, rather than having to wait until they renewed.
A number of high profile handsets will be available and compatible with the 4G network at launch, including Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and the HTC One XL.
Yesterday we met with EE to get a hands-on of its 4G in action. Take a look at our blog to see videos of speed comparisons across a number of smartphones.
Last night it was confirmed that rival operators would be able to roll-out their own 4G services sooner than expected, thanks to Arqiva and Digital UK freeing up the spectrum needed for the deployment five months earlier than expected.
However, they will still have to wait until December for the auction of the frequencies to begin and until May 2013 until the spectrum is completely clear.