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EE launches Britain's first 4G network in 11 cities

EE has said it hopes its 4G service will be available to 98 percent of the population by the end of 2014.

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A man talks on his mobile phone in central London on October 17, 2012. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)

EE has launched Britain's first-ever 4G mobile network in 11 cities, and has pledged that the service will be available to 98 percent of the population by the end of 2014.

London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow and Southampton had access to the fourth generation service as of Tuesday morning, and Belfast, Derby, Hull, Newcastle and Nottingham are expected to be active by Christmas, BBC News reported.  

EE, formerly known Everything Everywhere but now the merged UK operations of T-Mobile and Orange, has trained 10,000 “EE experts” to focus specifically on selling 4G handsets, according to TechCrunch

"Today is a landmark day for our company, the UK mobile industry and, most importantly, the country's businesses and consumers," EE CEO Olaf Swantee said in a statement, PC Magazine reported. "Combined with our Fibre Broadband and revolutionary service model we have a pioneering and unique offer to customers across the UK — superfast speeds in the home, superfast speeds on the move and expert service on nearly every high street in Britain." 

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EE is investing £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) in the new network, according to PC Magazine, and has promised speeds 8 to 12Mbps on mobile devices, five times faster than 3G networks. 

The company has come under criticism for their pricing for data, however: their 4G plans start at 500MB for $57 (£36) per month, with extended plans up to 8GB at $89 a month.

"It's fair to say that EE has attracted a fair degree of criticism not so much for the price of the 4G tariffs, but rather on the amount of data bundled at each level," Matthew Howett, a regulation analyst at Ovum, told BBC News. "EE was always going to have a difficult role to play being the first mover." 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/121030/ee-launches-britain-first-4g-network