Mobile users who want to upgrade to the new superfast 4G network will face steeper costs — with few special favours for Orange and T-Mobile customers.
The two networks' parent firm EE, which has exclusive rights in the UK to offer 4G for now, today revealed the price of its '4GEE' packages, which will typically cost £5 per month more than equivalent 3G deals over the course of a contract.
But there are no cheaper, low-use packages available — often attractive to bargain-hunters — as all deals come with unlimited calls and texts.
Existing Orange and T-Mobile customers who have been in contract for over six months will have to pay a penalty of two-thirds of their remaining deal to switch to 4GEE, which launches on Tuesday 30 October.
Customers who joined more recently can switch at no extra cost — but only if they already have a 4G-ready handset, such as Apple's iPhone 5 (pictured, right) and the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE.
Users will need a 4G phone and an EE contract to access the faster network, as it won't work via existing Orange or T-Mobile services.
Web browsing on 4G is typically five times faster than 3G. However, when MoneySavingExpert.com tested a 4G device yesterday, it was almost 10 times faster than a similar 3G handset.
The 4G network will initially go live in 11 cities next week (London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Glasgow and in parts of Southampton). It will extend to six further cities this year and 98% ofthe country by the end of 2014.
Existing customer upgrades
EE will allow Orange and T-Mobile customers to leave their contract early to switch to 4GEE but they may face a penalty. The amount they'll pay depends on when they first took out their calling plan and which phone they have.
- Orange/T-Mobile contracts taken out in last six months with 4G-ready phone. These customers can switch to EE with no penalty, so they'll simply pay the same price as a new customer as long as they switch to a plan at the same monthly price or one level up.
- Orange/T-Mobile contracts taken out in last six months with an iPhone4S, Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC OneX. These users can trade-in their phone for 4G handset for £99 and then sign-up to a 4GEE monthly contract, as part of an in-store offer which ends on 31 December. The £99 fee is set in stone regardless of how much the phone costs for a new customer.
- Orange/T-Mobile contracts taken out in last six months with other phones, or Orange/T-Mobile contracts taken over six months ago. This group will need to pay off two-thirds of their existing contract, if switching to EE. They get to keep their phone, so can sell it to reduce the overall cost.
An EE spokeswoman says: "Our early upgrade plan is designed to offer as many of our customers the opportunity to move to 4GEE as soon as possible.
"While we understand not everyone will have one of the qualifying handsets, we believe we have covered the large majority of likely upgraders."
Here is what it will cost per month on 4GEE. All deals come with unlimited UK calls and texts. It's the amount of data you buy to use the internet and download emails that is flexible and affects the price.
4GEE monthly costs
|Data plan||2-year contract||1-year contract||Sim-only 1 year|
The 4G network is available on the following handsets: iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.
If you opt for a deal that includes a new phone, here's what you will pay for selected devices as an upfront cost regardless of the length of your contract. The price depends on the amount of data you buy.
4GEE handset prices
|HTC One XL 4G LTE||£149.99||£49.99||£29.99||£29.99||£29.99|
|Samsung Galaxy S3 4G LTE||£149.99||£49.99||£29.99||£29.99||£29.99|
|Huawei Ascend P1 4G LTE||£19.99||Free||Free||Free||Free|
|Samsung Galaxy Note 2 4G LTE||£179.99||£139.99||£89.99||£39.99||£29.99|
|iPhone 5 16GB||£179.99||£109.99||£49.99||£29.99||£19.99|
|iPhone 5 32GB||£269.99||£219.99||£149.99||£99.99||£29.99|
Customers who sign up to a 4GEE tariff will also get 2for1 cinema tickets on a Wednesday, as Orange customers get.