Bristol enters superfast digital age with 4G launch
SHOPPERS in Bristol were amongst the first in the country to get their hands on the new generation of mobile phones.
The new 4G phones will give people broadband speeds on their mobile phones and Bristol is one of the first of ten cities in the UK to get the new technology.
Although only one mobile phone company is offering the new service and prices start at £36 a month the service is expected to revolutionise the mobile phone market. The service will mean that people can download large chunks of data, music and film no matter where they are.
EE, the company which was formerly known as Everything Everywhere, launched its range of 4G products and services in its shop in Cabot Circus.
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The 4G network offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, and is available on the Apple iPhone 5 as well as HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei handsets.
Even though contracts start at £36 per month there has been criticism of the cost. EE's pricing plans will hit customers on certain tariffs with additional charges if they exceed download allowances.
People wanting to make the most of the new network will have to pay around £56 a month.
There were some queues at the shop in Bristol city centre with people keen to get hold of the new technology.
Rival operators including Vodafone, O2 owner Telefonica and Three will be able to launch their own 4G services and products from next spring. They had threatened legal action against communications regulator Ofcom over its 4G auction process, which has allowed EE to be the sole UK provider of the superfast services until next year.
Vodafone launched a "4G phone promise" last week, offering customers the chance to bring an eligible phone into any store and have 70 per cent knocked off their remaining contract in exchange for taking on a 4G device.
The cheapest EE tariff offers just 500mb worth of downloads each month – the equivalent to two one-hour programmes on the BBC iPlayer. Customers who want to download more than their 500mb allowance will have to pay extra, with a user looking to download eight one-hour programmes a month facing additional charges of up to £180 a year.
The EE deals range from £36 a month for 500mb of data downloads to £56 a month for 8gb of data. There are no plans for unlimited data downloads. The UK is still way behind other countries which have already launched 4G services, including the US, Canada, Japan, Germany, Australia, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
EE area manager for Bristol Steve Tucker said: "History is in the making and it's so exciting to be a part of this huge development which brings the people of Bristol into a better digital age and really positions the city as a well-connected place to live and work.
"The reaction from customers this morning has been fantastic as they see how much faster 4G is and the quality of the download."
The new system is expected to be popular with business.
Dan Wagner, from mobile payments company mPowa, said: "The introduction of 4G has come at a great time for businesses across Bristol.
"We are looking for growth across the board and the technology ecosystem will be central in enabling business to develop new ideas."