THE speed of “superfast” 4G mobile internet is to double for users in Edinburgh and Glasgow, provider EE has announced.
The two Scottish cities are among ten locations in the UK where users will be able to benefit from the higher speed service of up to 80Mbps on their smartphone handsets.
The communications company, which was formed from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, and is currently the sole provider of the 4G network in the UK, said the scheme would be rolled out to keep up with soaring demand for mobile services.
The firm believes demand for network traffic is set to rise by 750 per cent in the next three years as phone users increasingly use their mobiles for video-heavy products such as online shopping and apps such as YouTube.
“We are ensuring that the UK remains at the forefront of the digital revolution,” said Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE.
“Since we launched 4G, we’ve seen a huge shift in the way people are using mobile. Video already accounts for 24 per cent of all traffic on our 4G network – significantly more than on 3G.”
He added: “Maps, mobile commerce, sat-nav tools and cloud services are all seeing a similar rise. Mobile users in the UK have a huge appetite for data-rich applications, and this will only grow as people become more familiar with next-generation technologies and services.”
Files so large that they previously required a fibre connection can be uploaded and shared through the new 4G network – opening the service to heavy business users, EE said. The faster speeds would also allow users to stream a high-definition video while uploading a presentation and speaking on a video conference-call simultaneously.
Experts claimed that the move could pave the way for rival providers to lower their prices in a bid to compete with EE when they launch their own 4G services later this year.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said double- speed 4G could convince more users to switch.
“Speeds now more than seven times faster than 3G could convince more mobile users to make the leap to EE – particularly if 4G can price itself to look like a viable alternative to those unable to receive fibre-optic broadband in their areas,” he said. A recent study by uSwitch found that 38 per cent of mobile users believe that 4G is currently too costly.
He added: “It will be interesting to see how things play out when other providers come out of the starting blocks later, with impressive top-line speeds likely to become a differentiator for EE. Now that it has raised the bar on speed, others will have to keep up or innovate in other areas – from pricing to services.”
Other cities to benefit from the double speed include Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.
EE, which currently offers standard 4G in 50 towns and cities across Britain, said it hopes to reach one million users by the end of the year. For the typical user, download speeds of initial 4G networks should be at least five to seven times faster than those of existing 3G networks.