Smartphone fans who rushed out to buy Apple's latest iPhone last month face an extra £5-a-month charge if they want to connect it to Britain's first 4G network, it was claimed today.
Mobile network EE, which will be first to launch the new protocol on October 30, has admitted it will charge a premium for the service, which is up to five times faster than 3G.
Although the company has not yet released its pricing strategy for 4G, it has been reported that customers will have to pay about £5 extra a month to connect to the network.
Over a two-year contract - typically already costing between £36 and £51 a month - that equates to a extra total charge of £120.
EE is understood to be planning to offer a range of tariffs for connection to 4G. The company made no comment on speculation on the average £5 extra cost, reported in the Times today.
However, a spokesman said: ‘It will be more expensive for phone users, but we really hope it will only be a fraction more expensive while also providing considerable value for money. We hope customers will be pleasantly surprised at the price.’
The company - a joint-venture between Orange and T-Mobile - announced the roll-out of the UK's first 4G network last week after spending £1.5million a day over the past year to get its infrastructure ready for the upgrade.
CEO Olaf Swantee said then: 'We are delighted to announce that the official launch of our new customer brand, EE, offering the UK’s first superfast mobile 4G and fibre broadband service, will take place on the 30th October 2012.
'This is a significant milestone for the United Kingdom, and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time.
'We are very proud to be pioneering, innovating and leading our industry in launching 4G for our nation through our new EE brand.'The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the web on the go, high definition movies to be downloaded in minutes and TV to be streamed without buffering.
EE's 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on Apple's iPhone 5, HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei devices.
EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, last month unveiled its plans to make the country's first state-of-the-art 4G services available to some 20 million people in 16 cities by Christmas.
However, the threat of legal action meant it could not announce a launch date.
EE said it will offer 4G to customers by Christmas in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Derby, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
The group then plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70% and rising to 98% in 2014.
The announcement came after last minute crunch talks between ministers and mobile operators lifted the threat of legal action delaying launches.
Regulator Ofcom has now agreed to bring forward the auction process that will let competing operators launch their 4G networks.
Ofcom said the 4G auction process is now on track to begin at the end of the year to enable competitive 4G services across UK during the first half of 2013.
Ed Richards, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: 'The actions we have taken with industry and government avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.
'Ofcom's objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year.'