Everything Everywhere (EE) has rolled out its 4G mobile internet service, with up to 12Mbit/s mobile connections now available in 11 cities.
From today, 4G is available to subscribers in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Bristol and Southampton. Rollouts in Belfast, Derby, Hull, Newcastle and Nottingham are promised by the end of 2012.
EE has also launched 700 stores to help market 4G contracts to consumers.
The firm predicts a 58 per cent productivity boost for businesses who take on 4G contracts, but the available packages proving confusing to early adopters.
The lowest-priced tariff – at £36 for a consumer – offers only 500MB of mobile internet connection per month which, considering 4G's projected speeds and vaunted HD video capability, could be eaten up in mere minutes, incurring hefty extra charges on monthly bills.
£56 a month buys 8GB of data, but there are so far no plans for unlimited data schemes.
No competing 4G services will be available until after the government auctions off more spectrum in the spring. At this point, Vodafone, O2 and Three should be able to enter the mix and begin to eat into EE's lead.
A recent survey by Thinkbroad.com found that 70 per cent of 1,250 respondents were unlikely to upgrade to EE's 4G service due to the price. Thinkbroadband also suggests that using HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) technology on 3G, which supports a theoretical 42Mbit/s next to EE's 12Mbit/s, may also hold back adoption. Popular handsets such as the Apple iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus 4 are fully compatible with HSPA.