Mobile operator EE has confirmed it will double the speed of its 4G network in 12 cities from 4 July 2013 as it continues to try to attract new customers.
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EE first announced the boost in April, but has now listed the first locations to get the improved connectivity, which could see speeds reach as high as 150Mbps – although an average of between 24Mbps and 30Mbps is more realistic.
The cities announced were Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
There is still no firm date for when the rest of the network will be upgraded to this level. A spokeswoman from EE said the date would depend on a number of factors, such as the readiness of masts and the population/customer base in other locations. However, the operator said the goal was in line with its promise of giving coverage to 98% of the UK by the end of 2014.
“As well as continuing to launch in new towns and cities, the next phase of EE’s 4G roll-out will focus on high-population consumer and business hubs such as airports, shopping centres and commuter belts that have seen average data usage triple since the launch of 4G, ensuring that EE powers consumers and business in the areas that are most important to them,” she added.
Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE, claimed the announcement showed his company was staying one step ahead of competitors as other mobile operators prepared to launch their 4G services later this summer.
“Our new double-speed 4G technology means that we have the biggest, fastest and best network in the UK, and now the equal fastest in the world,” he said.
“With our superfast network, we have a unique opportunity to introduce a new era of customer-friendly pricing models based on speed and we’ll be revealing further details of this later this year.”
On 17 July 2013, EE will launch a number of new offerings to the market, such as shared 4G plans to enable customers to connect up to five devices on one tariff; and the first pay-as-you-go options for mobile broadband.
Users who sign up to 24-month 4G contracts before 30 September 2013 will receive the doubled speeds and larger data allowances for the same price as a standard contract.
EE confirmed a new partnership with MasterCard, enabling NFC payments from mobiles. The "Cash on Tap" service will enable users to top up their phones with money and use it like a pre-pay contactless card in the 23,000 outlets that accept the method, such as Boots and McDonald’s. EE is offering £10 as an incentive for users to sign up to the service, which will also go live on 17 July.