Less than a week after EE unveiled 4G in thirteen more UK towns and cities (taking its total tally to fifty), the UK telecoms giant has announced that its super-fast 4G mobile network will be landing in black cabs too.
From today, the iconic black cabs (well, they’re not all strictly black anymore) in London and Birmingham will come replete with 4G, signalling the first time UK taxis have been outfitted with such fast Web access. For the time-being, only fifty cabs will be given the hi-tech makeover, fitted with a MiFi wireless router that serves as a 4G hotspot.
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The service will constitute part of a three-month trial in forty London taxis and ten in Birmingham, serving the central metropolitan areas of both conurbations. Participating cabs can be identified by their EE-branded aqua livery. Once a passenger has entered the taxi, they will have to text from their mobile to receive a unique code that allows them to log-on and start browsing.
EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) is the company that runs the Orange, T-Mobile and EE brands in the UK, and currently the only network that offers 4G, though Vodafone, O2 and Three are looking to launch their very own 4G services shortly. Indeed, just a couple of months back, the UK’s 4G auction ended with EE, Three, Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (part of BT), O2 and Vodafone raising £2.34 billion ($3.62 billion) to secure a total of 250 MHz of LTE spectrum.
“The first motorised black cabs hit the streets in 1901, nearly 70 years before the first smartphone was available to consumers, now we are bringing this icon of British transport into the 21st century with a 4G make-over,” says Spencer McHugh, Director of Brand, EE.
“We hope this trial will demonstrate the benefits of a superior online experience as users can browse, download, catch up on emails, Tweet and check Facebook literally at the speed of light,” he continues. “We can’t make taxi journeys any faster but we can certainly speed up people’s smartphones!”
So, unlike the broader 4G roll-out, this trial isn’t restricted to EE customers and will go some way towards letting others sample superfast Internet on the move. Whether it’s a short-term publicity stunt to get folk talking about (and using) 4G, or it will become a mainstay for London and UK taxis, remains to be seen.