EE SIM

Sharing plans to launch July 17, MasterCard-based mobile payments system on the way too

Mobile network EE, currently the only operator to offer 4G LTE services in the UK, has announced that its new "double speed" LTE services will officially launch starting tomorrow, July 4. Initially the new, faster service, which promises "headline" speeds of up to 80Mbps, will be available in some 12 towns and cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield. (We've already seen speeds of between 50 and 80Mbps in London and Manchester as EE has been testing the new service.)

In addition, EE has today announced that its shared 4G price plans will become available from July 17, as will its new Pay-As-You-Go 4G mobile broadband plans. The shared plans can give users unlimited calls and texts, and a central pool of up to 20GB to share between devices, TheNextWeb reports. But the new shared plans won't come cheap — the 20GB option is set to cost £112 per month.

EE also unveiled a new mobile payment system in partnership with MasterCard. "Cash on Tap" will be usable at some 300,000 locations across the UK, the networks claims, for payments of up to £20. The Cash on Tap app will be available on NFC-enabled phones, so there's a good chance it'll come preloaded on EE's Android phones at some point.

EE recently passed 55 percent population coverage for its LTE service in the UK, bringing its total markets to 85. Competition is expected to hot up later this year, though, as rivals O2, Vodafone and Three launch their own 4G networks.