The UK’s first 4G mobile internet service is here, with network EE officially flipping the switch – and converting 680 Orange and T-Mobile high street shops overnight.
On 30 October, 4G service will be available in the UK - and your familiar Orange and T-Mobe storefronts will be a thing of the past, with the only branding seen on the network’s online shops. On the high street, EE will front all stores, though each store will sell tariffs for Orange, T-Mobile and of course, EE.
The 4G rollout begins tomorrow in 10 UK cities, including London, Bristol and Cardiff, with 70% of the UK population covered next year. The network has claimed 98% coverage of the UK population by 2014, making it the fastest 4G rollout in the world, superceding even Scandinavia's speedy rollout of local super-fast internet.
As for the difference between the three brands under one store roof? T-Mobile has been labelled the network for the basics and Orange the slightly more expensive operator offering perks like 2-for-1 cinema tickets. EE is the official superfast internet’ that packs Orange-style perks, as well as the EE Film offer for one free film download per week outside your regular data allowance.
EE says their 4G service is five times quicker than current 3Gspeeds, allowing customers to stream TV and download films comfortably – as well as access Facebook and standard websites faster. We ran a speed test on an in-store iPhone 5 and got a download speed of 20.44MBps, which is actually three times faster than the theoretical best (7.2MBps) of current 3G.
Of course, that's a theoretical speed - we'll be running phone-against-phone tests from tomorrow to give you a more detailed analysis.
The new EE stores also section phones by operating system, while sales staff are trained in one particular OS. If you lose your phone, says EE, a preloaded app called Clone Phone on all EE SIMs ensures you’ll get it back with all your data within 24 hours.
Despite the recent social media outrage about 4G tariffs costing too much, EE is sanguine about their incoming customers. “We’re expecting real pull from business people, including SMEs, one-man bands, an equal representation from business and consumer contracts,” said an EE spokesperson.
At launch, 4G internet will only be available on 24-month tariffs (check them out here), but down the line, PAYG tariffs will be considered as well. We’ll be testing out an HTC One XL fully tomorrow, so check back for our full 4G review then!