By Francesca James, Techbubbles

The UK’s first fourth generation (4G) mobile service will launch in 16 UK cities before the end of 2012.

Everything Everywhere, which will now be known as just EE, will continue the roll-out into the new year, and aims to provide 4G to 98% of the UK by 2014.

Four cities — London, Bristol, Cardiff and Birmingham — were switched on yesterday for the company’s engineers to begin live testing and systems integration, in readiness for the customer launch.

EE’s 4G network will cover a third of the UK population in 2012 — over 20 million people — and customers on the EE brand will also have access to the largest 3G network in the UK outside of the 4G cities. Further towns, cities and rural areas, will follow rapidly with 2013 population coverage to reach 70%, with 98% covered by 2014.

EE’s 2012 launch schedule will see 16 areas of the country connected to 4G by Christmas — the UK’s four capitals and twelve other major cities. The 16 cities are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.

The EE network has been created by bringing together the former 3G and 2G networks of Orange and T-Mobile, coupled with a three-year £1.5bn investment for upgrades and new 4G services.

With the Orange and T-Mobile networks now combined, customers will now begin switching over to the new seamless EE network, the largest in the UK. By the end of the year, all 27 million customers will be using the EE network.
Speaking to the BBC, EE chief executive Olaf Swantee told the BBC “4G will bring a more reliable connection”
He said that “when you see that it can do so much more than the current network, people will have a great appetite for it.”

“Our networks can cope for now but they are not future-proofed.”

If you enjoyed this article, I think you’d like the blog, you can visit us here or come and chat to us on twitter here.

We couldn’t do it without our fantastic sponsors Dell and Trend Micro. For the hottest laptop deals from Dell click here.