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EE’s 4G network goes live in the UK

EE 4G LaunchThe UK’s first 4G LTE network has gone live today, providing 11 cities around the country with a high speed data connection, and a choice of high performance smartphones to match.

It’s courtesy of the EE network, which is a re-branding of Everything Everywhere, the company formed after the merger of Orange and T-Mobile last year. It has also got the jump on its rivals too, as it was allowed to re-farm its 1800MHz spectrum for 4G use, while others must wait for the official spectrum auction to take place early next year before they can compete.

EE will be selling its 4G phones and contracts through a chain of 700 stores, although the only places where eager buyers will get a 4G signal is in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. A further five cities will go online before the end of the year.

A wide selection of phones are available, including the Apple iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, the HTC One XL and the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. The new Nokia Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8 is an EE exclusive too, at least for a short while.

Prices start at £36 per month for unlimited calls and texts, plus 500MB of data, and continue up to £56 per month for 8GB of data. Many have complained about the high prices and the lack of an unlimited data package, forcing the network to defend itself in an interview with PCPro.co.uk, where it was claimed that the structure was based on existing usage statistics.

Early adopters happy to pay the higher charges, and live in the right area, can expect to enjoy being on the only 4G game in town until summer 2013, when Vodafone, O2 and Three expect to be able to offer an alternative.