IT IS meant to be the latest mobile phone technology money can buy.

Now people in Southampton are able to use the new 4G network, provided by EE (formerly known as Everything Everwhere), where technology-savvy people can get access to data five times faster than with current networks.

Yesterday mobile phone networks Orange and T-Mobile, who are owned by EE, were offering customers the chance to snap up the latest deals.

The city is only one of 11 in the country where people can take advantage of the new technology - but it comes at a price of £5 extra for the average tariff and hasn't been rolled out in rural areas yet.

But Neil Maxfield the regional manager of EE, said: “The key point is that people can access the internet without having to wait and can download music and videos without buffering.

“Initially it will only be in the city but that is changing all the time, we will be adding more areas through the course of the year.

“By 2014 we're going to have 98 per cent of the country with 4G coverage.

“At this point we're very confident. It's about five times better than what's currently in place.”

One customer in the WestQuay Shopping Centre store, Ling Shum, said: “I wanted 4G for faster speeds to connect to internet for email, video and internet browsing.

“My previous set-up was slow and on-and-off, but I get a good constant signal with 4G.

“Loading videos on the internet there is no buffering, everything is instant.”

Most mobile phone devices these days work on 3G networks allowing people to access information via the internet.

But 4G provides users with promised download speeds of between eight and 12 megabits per second - as good as a broadband network in the home.

Rival networks Vodafone, O2 and Three will be able to launch their own 4G service in May.

Businesses in Southampton have welcomed the launch of 4G.

Dan Wagner, is chief executive and chairman of mPowa, He is currently working with firms across the country to help them accept credit card payments via mobile phones and a fast wireless internet is vital to his achieve that.

“The introduction of 4G has come at a great time for businesses across Southampton.

“Businesses don't want to be tied down to a fixed location and so a mobile broadband connection that is reliable, faster and affective will allow them to work flexibly,” he said.

  • All you need to know about 4G

What is 4G technology?
Essentially it allows people to wirelessly access the internet and anything that can be downloaded (films, music and games) at a rate five times faster than what is currently available.
4G stands for fourth generation of mobile communications networks and is the successor to the third generation network which has been available on all smart phones (e.g. iPhone).

Where can you get it?
Back in August, communications regulator Ofcom allowed EE (Everything Everywhere), the owner of the Orange and T-Mobile networks, to launch 4G.
That means by December, 16 UK cities will have 4G service (Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Southampton).

Can I get 4G from other mobile phone providers?
At the moment, no. Other mobile network providers Vodafone, Three, and O2 owner Telefonica will be launching their own services in the spring of 2013. These will be incompatible with 4G phones designed for EE's network.

How much does it cost?
Tariffs vary but EE are offering 500 mbs of data (the equivalent of downloading two one-hour programmes on BBC iPlayer) for £36 per month over a 24-month contract.

Which phones support 4G?
iPhone 5 and newer phones by companies such as HTC, Nokia, Samsung and Huawei.

Should I buy now?
It might be best to wait to the spring when the other networks will provide competitive prices, but by then we might be expecting another technological breakthrough in mobile communications.