4G broadband launch brought forward
The fastest broadband network yet, 4G, is to be launched five months earlier than planned. But how can you get it on your phone?
Mobile operators have agreed to a faster roll-out of the 4G network to begin at the start of next year. This means we’ll be able to get our hands on 4G internet five months earlier than previously thought, but it will only be available in certain UK cities.
Everything Everywhere (EE), a collaboration of Orange and T-Mobile, won the original auction to host 4G and it will be launching the new network on 30th October.
It was originally planned for the other phone providers to wait until late next year to bring out their own versions, but this will now be a lot sooner.
The 4G roll-out
The main difference between 4G and 3G is speed as it promises to be five times faster than the existing network.The new service will allow smartphone users to stream films, music and TV shows much more quickly.
This week in a meeting between Ofcom, the regulator for the communications industry, the Government and the leading mobile phone providers it was agreed the 4G network roll-out should be sped up.
As EE will be launching this month, rival providers had been talking about suing the company on the grounds of unfair competition. However, after the latest meeting these thoughts seem to have been set aside.
When it was announced in August that EE, the UK’s biggest phone company with 27 million customers, would be the first network to launch the 4G network, other providers reacted with anger. Added to this, when the iPhone 5 came out its 4G network was also exclusively with EE.
However, things seem to have settled after the latest Ofcom meeting and O2 and Vodafone, the two biggest rivals, have now said they’ll drop any legal cases against EE.
How can I get 4G on my phone?
To start with it will only be available in the UK's major towns and cities but by the end of 2014 it's predicted to be accessible to 98% of the country.
Therefore you need to be living in one of these cities to be in with a chance of having access in the first instance: Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Carfiff, Liverpool, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow or Sheffield.
By the end of the year, Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton will also have coverage. To check if you'll be able to get it, you can enter your postcode on the EE website to find out.
You’ll also need a 4G-enabled phone to be able to use the network such as, the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE. If you sign up for a new contract on either Orange or T-Mobile with a 4G-ready phone, you'll then be able to upgrade to an EE plan when it launches in your area.
Although there hasn't been any news on how much 4G tariffs will cost, they're expected to be more than the existing 3G tariffs and as only one operator (EE) will have access to the network until spring 2013, it may be worth waiting a few months to get a more competitive deal.