Everything Everywhere set to launch 4G mobile internet
Rumours have been circulating all year about the launch of 4G and now the first licence has been granted. We're one step closer to getting super-fast mobile broadband.
The go ahead has been granted by telecoms regulator Ofcom for Everything Everywhere (EE) – the owner of Orange and T-Mobile – to launch fourth-generation, or 4G, mobile internet services.
This means Britain is a step closer to gaining a high-speed mobile internet service which will be around seven times faster than the current 3G network.
Other companies are expected to be allowed to bid for bandwidth early in 2013. Ofcom says it wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services to ensure competition in the market.
What is 4G?
The main difference between 4G and 3G is the speed of downloads. The new service will allow smartphone users to stream films, music and TV shows much more quickly.
Rumours have been circulating all year about when 4G will be rolled out. It had been thought that we would have to wait until 2013 for the launch.
But EE ,the UK’s biggest phone company with 27 million customers, will now be able to start using the 4G network from next month.
We’re not the first country to roll out 4G either as there are currently more than 60 commercial 4G networks in around 30 countries including the US and Scandinavia.
How will it work?
Although there’s not a great amount of detail around about how the 4G network will operate, it’s believed it will allow users to get the same kind of broadband speeds on their mobile phones which are currently only available in the home.
Ofcom has auctioned out empty airwaves, left over from shutting down analogue TV signals, to cover the service.
Can I use it on my phone?
It depends on what model you have but probably not as your phone will need to be 4G enabled. These include the new iPhone 5, with several are due to be launched later in the year.
Around the same time dongles programmed with 4G technology will be available to buy to allow super-fast broadband on the go.
Competition in the market
Unsurprisingly both O2 and Vodafone have slated the decision.
O2 says it’s "hugely disappointed" with the announcement from Ofcom as it means "the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services". It also suggests that this decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK.
Vodafone echoed that sentiment and said it was "shocked" by the decision from the regulator, which showed "careless disregard" for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy.
Vodafone and O2 will have to wait until the next 4G auction before buying airwaves to launch their own services – money which goes to the public purse. These airwaves are currently being used for digital TV and won’t be ready for mobile signals until the end of 2013.
What do you think? Will 4G make any difference to you? Will it be worth paying more for your tariff or mobile phone?
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