Mobile operator EE will announce its launch date for 4G services imminently as it finalises its deployment testing programme.
An EE spokesperson would not be drawn on yesterday's rumours of peace talks between communications regulator Ofcom, Culture Secretary Maria Miller and UK mobile operators, which would enable 4G services to become widely available as early as next May, and also allow EE to announce a 4G launch date.
"We won't be drawn on this debate but watch this space and see what comes from what you're hearing [on Tuesday]," an EE spokesperson told Computing.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has since issued a statement confirming that 4G services will be available by spring 2013 as opposed to the end of next year, but did not go into detail as to how an agreement was struck.
Newly appointed Culture Secretary Maria Miller was positive about the rescheduled dates.
"Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services," she said in a statement.
"By speeding up the delivery of 4G in the UK, the government is creating enormous opportunities. It is up to the operators to now deliver the services that businesses and consumers expect and we are confident they will succeed," she added.
Tom Bennett, director of network services and device development at EE, confirmed that the mobile operator is keeping tight-lipped about its 4G launch date but will reveal all in the "coming weeks".
"This week we've added Leeds and Sheffield to Bristol, Cardiff, London and Birmingham on the deployment programme from a testing perspective. So those cities have 4G turned on and they are being tested. We'll be ready for launch when we are happy with the performance in 10 of those cities," Bennett said.
EE has committed to delivering 4G services to 16 cities by the end of 2012.
Bennett said that EE has seen peak speeds of 61Mbit/s in the lab, and a peak of 54Mbit/s in the field, while conceding that in rural areas peaks can vary due to the different frequencies used.
He also confirmed that EE will continue to look at developments in 4G technology in the next two to three years.
"There are new categories of devices and there is LTE and LTE advanced – EE will be involved. When a new technology is available we will be looking to roll that out," Bennett stated.
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