Update 24/06/13: EE has switched on its double-speed 4G services in the Tech City area of London, offering startups in the area headline speeds of 80Mbps on the network. EE chief executive, Olaf Swantee described it as a move to ensure “UK businesses have the tools that they need to thrive, and to take the UK into a position as a world leader for technology, innovation and entrepreneurship”. Consideration is also being given to similar services being rolled out to other growing tech clusters in areas such as Bath, Cambridge, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland further improving the UK’s digital backbone.
Thanks to Everything Everywhere (EE), the current 4G sole provider, 4G is now available to more than 50% of the UK, across 74 towns and cities. The fourth generation mobile network has been available in the UK since October 2012 and there are clear benefits. According to Ofcom 4G is around 5 to 7 times faster than the current 3G networks, with an average speed of 6Mbit/s, compared to 1Mbit/s.
Some however are sceptical about whether the added value received from 4G is worth the higher price tag. EE has recently launched 30-day SIM-only plans in response to this. Consumers who have doubts are now able to try the service without committing to a long-term contract. These plans are just £2 a month more expensive than a 12 month contract, ranging from £23 a month for 500MB, to £63 a month for 20GB, all including unlimited calls and texts.
The Ofcom 4G auction held at the beginning of 2013 helped to promote competition in the marketplace. This will inevitably lead to 4G prices decreasing. The auction raised £2.34bn, the winning bids coming from EE, Hutchison 3G UK, Niche Spectrum Ventures (a BT subsidiary), Telefónica (O2) and Vodafone. It is expected that these network providers will begin to offer 4G services in the autumn of 2013. Results from Ofcom’s measurements into the differing speeds however, will not be released until spring 2014.
The demand for 4G is expected to grow quickly, with almost the entire UK population anticipated to have access to 4G mobile services by the end of 2017. Ofcom also recently announced that they are planning to support the release of further spectrum for possible 5G mobile services.
EE, 30 day SIM-only.
Ofcom, What is 4G?