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EE has today begun rolling out the United Kingdom’s first 4G network. It will be arriving in 11 major cities during this initial phase, including London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, and Southampton.

By Christmas, the 4G network will reach an additional six cities, including Belfast, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Newcastle, and Nottingham. It promises data speeds between 8 to 12Mbps — which makes it up to five times faster than existing 3G networks.

Those speeds do come at a cost, however. EE’s new 24-month 4G tariffs start at £36 (approx. $58) per month for just 500MB of allowance, which is hardly going to last you very long. You can double that allowance to 1GB for £41 (approx. $66) per month, or for £5 (approx. $8) per month extra you can get 3GB of data.

EE’s most expensive plan gives you 8GB of data every month for £56 (approx. $90).

Then there’s the cost of the 4G smartphones themselves. Most smartphones released in the U.K. can be obtained for free on 3G contracts priced at around £30-£40 (approx. $48-$64) per month, but EE is only offering one 4G smartphone with no upfront cost, and that’s the Huawei Ascend P1. Anything else will cost you at least £29.99 (approx. $48) up-front.

Those prices are likely to come down when other carriers begin offering their own 4G services, but that’s not going to happen until next year. In the meantime, EE boss Olaf Swantee maintains that the company’s prices are based on “months of consumer research,” and that all its 4G tariffs are priced at “the sweet spot.”

What do you think? Will you be signing up to EE’s new 4G network today?

[Via: BBC News]