Adoption rates for 4G in the UK are among the fastest in the world, according to mobile operator EE, which today announced that it has signed up one million customers to its superfast broadband services.

The telecoms firm said that people's increasing accessibility to 4G is reducing its customers' usage of public Wi-Fi spots, and it argues that the service is a "catalyst for business growth, with companies of all sizes being transformed by superfast mobile speeds".

Rival operators Vodafone and O2 have both recently launched 4G themselves, and will be looking to catch up with EE, which took a lead in this field with a 2012 launch.

EE, which was formed in 2010 when Orange merged with T-Mobile, unveiled the UK's inaugural 4G service in October last year. More than 100 towns and cities are now able to use 4G from EE at what the company describes as speeds faster than networks in the rest of Europe, the US and Japan.

At the end of August Lancashire town Accrington was officially named the 100th town in the UK to benefit from EE's new faster internet service, allowing the mobile operator to bring in Liverpool Football Club's record goal-scorer Ian Rush (pictured) as part of its marketing drive. The Welsh striker, who was famously referenced in a 1980s Milk Marketing Board advert involving the town's football team, visited Accrington Stanley's ground to help switch on their 4G technology in a nicely staged public relations exercise.

Commenting on the rapid roll-out of 4G technology since last autumn, EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: "The UK mobile sector saw a huge shift ten months ago with the launch of 4G from EE.

"We know that all communities across Britain want 4G, not just those in the big urban centres, and we're committed to continuing to roll out superfast mobile at this record breaking pace."

It remains to be seen how growing 4G adoption will impact the retail industry, but as mCommerce and smartphone transactions continue to play a central part in the relationships between consumers and brands, retailers will need to ensure they are offering the very best mobile services.

Last week Asda Mobile announced that it had chosen EE to be its mobile virtual network operator. This MVNO partnership will allow Asda Mobile customers the opportunity to access the mobile firm's 2G and 3G services from the end of October, while 4G services will be available next year.

The Walmart-owned supermarket group has already been working with EE to provide public Wi-Fi across its entire estate of more than 550 stores and its head office in Yorkshire. The grocer says that this free-to-use own-branded service has achieved almost half a million sign-ups so far, as shoppers use it to access the internet while in-store.

EE has also supplied 700 iPads to stores and depots around the country to help Asda employees with administrative work.

Asda retail director Mark Ibbotson said: "EE already provides excellent service to our customers and colleagues by providing free Wi-Fi in store, and through our business to business contract. So this mobile partnership felt like the next logical step.

"Our decision to take our MVNO business to EE was driven by our ambition to further improve the experience for Asda Mobile customers, by taking advantage of a bigger and faster network, with first class network coverage – and offering even better value."

ee.co.uk