It has finally happened! Today on the 30th of October marks the day that 4G will finally be available in the UK, boasting around three times faster browsing for the end user versus 3G connectivity on average. EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) are the company to thank for rolling out the UK’s first ever 4G LTE network and consumers from today can enjoy hitting download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload speeds of up to 50Mbps.
EE have switched on their 4G LTE network to users of its service in 11 cities across the UK: London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. For those of you who do not have access to 4G just yet or live outside of these zones, EE have committed to extending their 4G LTE range by 2,000 square miles every single month until the majority of the UK is covered. EE expects a 98% UK population coverage by the end of 2014, meaning that in two years, consumers will be able to browse the internet on the move close to speeds offered by a traditional WiFi connection.
As part of its rebrand, EE has opened over 700 new stores on high streets across the UK, in what it calls “one of the biggest and fastest transformations in UK retail history.” If you happen to walk past a mobile phone store which used to be Orange or T-Mobile and it now says EE, you can see this transformation for yourself first hand.
Before you start jumping for joy and frantically trying to figure out how and when you can get 4G, there are a few things you need to know in terms of current devices which support 4G and the 4G market currently in terms of network providers. Here is what you need to know:
For those of you who want to try out 4G and compare it to your existing 3G connection, there are a few things you are going to have to consider first. Namely, you need to have a smartphone or tablet which supports 4G LTE. Here is a list of the smartphones which are 4G capable and available to purchase right now:
Huawei Ascend P1 LTE
This smartphone offers a pure Google Android 4.0 experience alongside a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor and a large (and rather great) Super AMOLED 4.3-inch display with solid viewing angles. Huawei make some great phones, and this is one of them.
Nokia Lumia 820
The Nokia Lumia 820 is a mid-range Windows Phone 8 powered handset boasting access to Nokia’s exclusive Windows apps including Maps. It features a 4.3-inch AMOLED non IPS display and inside you’ll find a 1.5Ghz dual-core chip to keep things running smoothly.
Nokia Lumia 920
The most premium handset Nokia makes, the Lumia 920 is a Windows Phone 8 powered smartphone featuring a 4.5” screen and wireless charging, as well as Nokia ‘Pureview’ photography technology and the company’s maps and music services. This smartphone is exclusive to EE.
This smartphone needs no introduction; this is Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone model, which rocks a 4-inch display and faster clocked dual-core processor. iOS 6 has brought a number of great features to the operating system, and the phones design is gorgeous.
HTC One XL
A beast of a smartphone, the HTC One XL features a 4.7-inch Gorilla Glass screen as well as Beats audio, a 1080p HD video and 8MP camera and inside you’ll find a blistering 1.5Ghz dual-core processor. This is a smartphone perfect for those with big display hungry pockets.
Samsung Galaxy Note II
The Samsung Galaxy Note II is a bit of a niche product. It features a 5.5-inch HD AMOLED screen; 1.6GHz, quad-core processor; New S Pen stylus with 1024 pressure levels; 2GB RAM and a display with a 720 x 1,280 pixel resolution.
Samsung Galaxy S III LTE
The Galaxy S III LTE is perhaps the best smartphone of 2012. It boasts a gorgeous 4.8-inch HD Super AMOLED display and is powered by a quad core 1.4GHz processor, 2GB RAM and the latest Android version 4.1 Jelly Bean (until the Nexus 4 ships, with 4.2).
Now that you know which smartphones are 4G capable (if you already have one, that’s fantastic) it is time to go out and buy one. Here lies a problem though; networks. Currently EE is the ONLY 4G LTE provider in the UK.
EE is the first 4G LTE network provider in the UK and currently no other network supports 4G. That means that customers on Vodafone, Three, O2 or a SIM provider like Giff-Gaff are left out in the cold. If you have a contract which is coming up for renewal soon you may want to seriously considering moving over to EE for 4G, however for those who have a year or so left on their contract, what is your network provider doing in order to stay 4G competitive?
Vodafone, Three and O2 are expected to launch their own ultra-fast 4G networks sometime next Spring in 2013, once the government auctions off the remaining 4G spectrum. This has caused some serious controversy over the past few months with Vodafone, Three and O2 voicing concerns over competition due to EE having a huge head start within the 4G market. This is one of the reasons 4G is so darn expensive right now, with EE’s pricing coming under argument across the internet.
EE has caused some controversy in its pricing for its 4G service. Here is what you get and what you have to pay for their plans: 500 MB for £36.00 per month, 1GB for £41.00 per month, 3GB for £46.00 per month, 5GB for £51.00 per month, 8GB for £56.00 per month (all of these plans feature unlimited calls and texts).
In the real-world, the above means that the only real basic plan one can consider is the 1GB plan which rolls in at £41 per month, and that’s for users who use hardly any data at all. The lowest plan which costs £36 per month is a no go for people who use the internet often, as two episodes of Breaking Bad on Netflix later you will have exceeded your data allowance of 512MB. Using the iPhone 5 as an example, this handset will cost you consumers £179.99 upfront on its £36 per month 24 month contract, a tariff that will get you around an hour of web access if EE delivers it’s promise of 30Mbit/s speeds. That simply is not enough for a months worth of use.
Still, it’s not so bad for those happy to sign up to EE’s 24 month £56 8GB tariff, as the iPhone 5 will cost just £19.99 upfront. Essentially the more you pay, the better the deal you will get, if you can afford it.PS: Digging this story, news or review? Let us know! Comments open.
About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is a professional self-employed blogger and the founder / owner of Technology Blogged. 22, with a love for good writing, you'll find me playing 'Drag Racing' on my HTC One X and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to my feed for unique editorials. Find me on Google+. View author profile.