4G in the UK: EE hits switch on network in 10 cities this month

People who want to be among the first in the UK to use 4G services can do so in 10 cities from the end of October, as EE is switches on its 4G network, with six more cities to come before the end of the year.
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Customers who pre-register or sign up for EE's 4G network will be able to start using 4G LTE connectivity in the UK from 30 October, the mobile operator has confirmed.


EE said customers in 10 cities ( Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Sheffield) will be able to get coverage from this date. A further six cities (Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton) are expected to come online before the end of 2012.

"This is a significant milestone for the United Kingdom, and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time," Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The launch this month cements EE's headstart in offering a national 4G service before 2013. Rival operators Vodafone and O2 will not be able to switch their LTE services on until at least May 2013, as the 800MHz spectrum that they use for 4G needs to be cleared of analogue TV signals first.

ZDNet went hands-on with EE's 4G service in London on Tuesday and received download speeds of between 5Mbps and 40Mbps in multiple speed tests. Despite the fluctuation, David Salem, director of network strategy for the company said the service would aim to provide a solid 8Mbps —12Mbps downstream.

Pricing and the data limits on the 4G services will be defining factors in whether people sign up to EE's network. However, EE would not give the cost of the service or tarriffs, but noted this information will be available in the coming weeks. Pay-as-you-go 4G services will not be an option at launch but are planned to be introduced later.

"This opportunity can only be capitalised if the provision of 4G is at a price point that lifts the restrictions around user behavior. Users have to overcome the surrounding trepidation," Matthew Finney, chief technical officer at cloud services provider Interoute, said in a statement. "The potential for 4G is limitless, but we need to get to the point where users treat it as they do fixed broadband if the full benefits are to be realised."

At launch EE will offer 4G compatible handsets such as the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, HTC One XL, Samsung Galaxy Note II and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.

The launch of the service was put on hold as part of a ceasefire agreement which ended on Tuesday with an agreeable outcome for the UK's mobile operators, putting an effective end to threats of litigation and bringing the launch of rivals 4G networks closer.

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