The key advantage to 4G is speed. It offers far faster mobile network speeds for downloading music and video as well as uploading.
You may well hear 4G referred to as LTE. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is simply the technical name for 4G services.
The networks we have at the moment use 3G/UMTS technology, which has been around since 2003. It isn’t really fast enough for today’s needs and especially for mobile broadband.
4G is designed from the ground up as a data network rather than a pipe for voice calls, so it uses the same TCP/IP protocols that power the internet.
While current HSPA+ can reach theoretical speeds of 21Mbps, 4G download speeds could exceed 100Mbps with upload rates of more than 50Mbps – although real world speeds will be a lot slower.
Everything Everywhere, or EE, is launching its 4G network on 30 October.
If you’re an Orange or T-Mobile customer, you might have already noticed EE appearing as the network carrier on your handset. That’s because EE is the parent company of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK and the network is gradually using the new name.
The brand will officially be launched at the end of the month and the 4G service will be available in 10 cities on that date – London, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
The network says that Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton will also have the service by the end of 2012.
Upgrading to 4G
If you’re on a 3G tariff with Orange or T-Mobile then you will be able to upgrade to a 4G deal providing you have a 4G enabled handset.
The iPhone 5 is already 4G capable, with the HTC One XL, Huawei Ascend P1 LTE and Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE also getting involved. For the latest on tariffs and prices, take a look at this article posted earlier today!
It’s important to note that 4G networks in the UK will not be compatible with 4G networks in the US; they use a different waveband.
Will 4G be available for my network?
So what of the other networks? Three, O2 and Vodafone will definitely be joining the 4G movement by the end of next summer. The three networks were all rather annoyed that EE had been allowed by Ofcom to steal a march and launch early.
The networks now need to acquire some wavebands of their own to launch, which should happen in January. Three may well be first out of the blocks, as it has already acquired some of Orange’s spectrum.
The bandwidth has, until recently, been used for TV services.
As we’ve heard, 4G will be available in the big cities first, but it won’t be a huge amount of time before it reaches most urban area. Ofcom has previously said that it will need to reach 98% of the population and 95% of the country by the end of 2017.
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