The UK's largest mobile operator EE has announced that it will switch on 4G in a further 27 towns across the country by June 2013, expanding its faster coverage to more than 65 UK towns and cities in total.
Between April and June, 4G will be launched in Aldershot, Ashford, Basildon, Basingstoke, Blackpool, Bracknell, Camberley, Colchester, Crawley, Farnborough, Guildford, Horsham, Huddersfield, Leatherhead, Maidstone, Milton Keynes, Oldham, Oxford, Redhill, Reigate, Sevenoaks, Stevenage, Tonbridge, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Warrington, Wigan and Woking.
“Our business customers want a 4G network that covers the markets in which they operate,” said Olaf Swantee, chief executive officer at EE. “We’re set to cover more than half of the UK population by summer, staying ahead of the schedule that we set for ourselves at launch.”
The EE 4G network currently covers 45% of the UK population, and is forecast to increase to more than 55% by summer. Further towns, cities and rural areas will follow rapidly with coverage to reach 98% by 2014.
The news comes as the regulator Ofcom ploughs ahead with its auction of 4G licences in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands. The new spectrum will almost double the amount of airwaves currently available for mobile broadband services on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Ofcom has also published proposals to liberalise all mobile licences in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands – previously restricted to 2G and 3G technologies – to permit the deployment of 4G services.
Both of these measures will put an end to EE's monopoly on 4G services in the UK, and enable O2, Vodafone and at least one other mobile operator (probably Three) to launch their own 4G networks.
It is claimed that 4G offers customers speeds up to five times faster than 3G. However, some EE customers have been less than impressed with the new service, and others have reported that their 3G service has deteriorated since the company launched its 4G network at the end of October.
Nevertheless, UK businesses including Addison Lee, Foxtons, Gatwick Airport, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Kier, Microsoft, Morrisons, Sony Music, TNT Post and Urban Outfitters are all currently using EE's 4G network, with the aim of increasing efficiency and productivity.