EE Expands 4G Network, Reaches Half Of UK Population

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Bradford storm sky © Adrian Lindley Shutterstock

Bradford, Leicester, Luton, Doncaster, St Albans, Reading and other towns join the EE 4G service

EE announced it has connected 13 more UK towns and cities to its 4G network, bringing the total up to 50. The company claims that superfast wireless broadband service is now available to half of the UK population, and wants to reach 98 percent coverage by the end of next year.

However, some analysts warn that we still have a long way to go before 4G contracts become financially viable.

Welcome to the network

Five months after launching UK’s first 4G network on its existing spectrum, EE (formerly T-Mobile and Orange) has connected Bradford, Bingley, Doncaster, Dudley, Harpenden, Leicester, Lichfield, Loughborough, Luton, Reading, Shipley, St Albans and West Bromwich.

4G © Shkanov Alexey Shutterstock 2012EE was given the go-ahead for its 4G service months ahead of other operators, following Ofcom-held talks with industry rivals like O2, Vodafone and Three. Earlier this week, Three CEO Dave Dyson said that his company is unlikely to launch faster wireless service before the end of 2013.

Meanwhile, 4G from EE is now available in 50 towns and cities across the country, and the operator claims this means the superfast service is available to 50 percent of the population. By the end of June, EE is committed to launching 4G in another 30 urban centres, and increasing network density in locations it already serves.

4G or LTE connections are approximately five times faster than 3G. EE says its customers are seeing average speeds of more than 16Mbps and peak speeds of 50Mbps, which allows them to download large files quicker, watch live TV without buffering and play live multiplayer games on the go.

“With these major milestones of 50 towns and cities and 50 percent of the population, we’re remaining ahead of our schedule to equip UK consumers and businesses with 4G. Our customers are at the heart of our rollout and we are working hard to deliver 4G to 70 percent of the UK population by the end of this year, and 98 percent of the population by the end of 2014,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of EE.

However, not everyone is sold on the transformative power of 4G. “Sure, Internet browsing and downloads are offered at speeds five times faster than 3G. but on current mobile phone contracts this speed comes with a huge downside – on a basic tariff you could eat up your monthly Internet allowance usage in minutes,” warns Jeff Orr, founder and CEO of Stack Data Solutions.

According to Orr, EE is likely to have a “monopoly” on 4G for several more months, which means it can continue to hike up prices by placing strict data caps on users. “The number of 4G users or the amount they can download has to be limited; otherwise the ‘back end’ systems wouldn’t be able to cope. Bringing the ‘back end’ up to speed, so it can manage billions of 4G users with much larger data allowances, will literally cost billions.”

“Currently I’d advise anyone against moving to 4G, it doesn’t make commercial sense and any users would have to be extremely vigilant how they use it or they could end up with hefty phone bills at the end of each month,” concluded Orr.

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