As rival companies prepare to enter the 4G arena, EE is doing its utmost to persuade consumers to stick with it.
The mobile network operator Everything Everywhere, which trades as EE, is aiming to head off competition from other firms including Vodafone and O2 by bringing speeds in 12 British cities to those akin or faster than those found in America and South Korea.
Existing customers will get the upgrade for free, with the 500,000 people already signed up with EE automatically offered higher speeds at no extra cost until the end of their contract.
It means the EE network will be offering maximum top speeds of 150Mbps, doubling current average speeds to 24-30Mbps.
EE says the move will give consumers in the UK a 4G network they describe as “unequalled in Europe, faster than the mobile networks in the US and Japan, and equal to the best in South Korea.”
Chief executive Olaf Swantee said he was certain EE would stay “one step ahead” by combining the launch of double speed 4G with a “range of new innovative plans and services, designed to transform the way our customers connect and share content.”
The new improved service will first be available in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Better 4G means a reduction in buffering when you’re trying to watch a film or video clip, along with the ability to do more at once with your device, without suffering delays.
Meanwhile, EE has also announced the UK’s first mobile contactless payments deal, which means credit card users can register their phones as payment cards to use at nearly quarter of a million shops.
EE is also planning to offer shared mobile phone plans for families, which are common in other parts of the world, from July 17. It means families will be able to share up to five devices on one single price plan.
The scheme is already fairly common in the US, allowing families or individuals to buy one monthly data allowance that covers all smartphones and tablets. Customers will be able to add devices to their standard contract for an extra £12 per month for a 4G phone, or £5 per month for a 4G tablet.
Analysts are already predicting a high demand for such packages and believe other providers will follow EE’s lead. John Delaney, from IDC, said: “We believe there is a substantial latent demand for using a single mobile account to connect multiple devices, and people, and that packages to cater to this demand in an attractive way will see substantial adoption in the long run.”
The new EE services will include a £26 per month tariff for 500MB, £51 for 20GB and 2GB for £15.
EE’s new price bands for faster connections will come into play from September. While offering a choice of speeds, with associated cost differences is common for home broadband providers, it will mark a first for a UK mobile network.