EE’s double speed 4G network is set to go live in 12 towns and cities beginning tomorrow as the UK mobile operator finally gave a date for the introduction of its new 4G shared plans and pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile broadband options.

The 4G LTE mobile broadband options, which allow customers to pay for 4G services as and when they need them, is being offered with three months for the price of one as an introductory offer as a way of enticing new customers to give it a shot. Both the mobile broadband and shared 4G plans services will be available for customers from 17 July.

EE’s shared plans can be used between up to five devices and can provide up to 20GB of data usage, unlimited calling minutes and unlimited texts for £112 per month, the operator said.

In what became a flurry of announcements, EE also launched a new mobile payment app called Cash on Tap which works with NFC-enabled phones and allows customers to make payments of up to £20 in more than 230,000 locations today.

We’ve known for some time now that EE would begin doubling its 4G headline download speeds for users in 10 cities soon, but the network surprised us with the addition of two new cities. The 12 ‘double-speed’ towns are set to start being switched on from tomorrow, EE said.

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, said existing customers wouldn’t need to pay any sort of premium over its current pricing to get the faster speeds, he added that rolling out extra capacity and speeds is necessary given the predicted growth of mobile data usage, which has already soared in recent years.

The news follows EE’s ongoing expansion of its UK 4G LTE network which recently saw another 11 towns added to the footprint. To date, that makes it available in 85 towns and cities.

A race against time

It launched the superfast network at the end of last year, and has since seen more than half a million customers flock to its 4G service. However, with rival services likely to come online in mere months, its headstart in getting the 4G network up and running first is becoming ever slimmer, meaning it needs to maximize its potential customer base now by expanding to cover as much of the country as quickly as possible.

In addition to expanding its 4G services, the company has been aggressively trying to grow its market share with its fixed-line fiber broadband and phone service by rolling out bundled unlimited usage options.

More recently, it partnered with Tech City to bring its double speed 4G service to the surrounding area providing maximum downstream speeds of 80Mbps, with most people getting an average of 24Mbps – 30Mbps.

London is just one of the ten locations set to get double speed 4G connectivity before the end of the summer if EE can stick to its targets. In total, it aims to have more than one million customers using its superfast 4G service before the end of 2013. Eight months after launch, and with six months to go, it’s halfway there.