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4G Hits the UK: What You Need to Know

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 4G in the UK by Eve Lane
23rd Septmeber 2012

It’s been a long time coming, but finally the new 4G mobile network has been launched in the UK. Everything Everywhere, or EE for short, was launched on Wednesday September 12th, and will become operational in London, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Bristol first. By Christmas a total of 16 cities across the UK will be connected to the 4G network, and eventually the entire country will be able to access the super-fast network. There are already mobile phones and tablets with 4G capabilities on the market, but being able to utilise this new technology has not been possible until now.

Mobile operators Orange and T-Mobile have teamed up to provide the first UK 4G network, leaving competitors Vodafone and O2 well behind. It is thought that a rival 4G network will not be launched until the second half of next year, meaning that EE could end up consolidating a large proportion of the UK 4G market well in advance. EE plan to make the new network available to 70 percent of the population by the end of next year, and hope to have 98 percent of the population covered by 2014. The UK is lagging behind both the US and Germany in its roll-out of 4G, but all indications are that it won’t be long before it catches up.

A Little Bit About 4G

For those of you that do not know much about 4G, it’s the successor to 3G, the mobile network that anybody with smartphones uses now. 2G is still operational, but modern phones that can access the internet rarely use this type of network. So 4G is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunications technology, and is designed to be much faster than 3G. Speeds will vary from different network providers and number of users, but tests has revealed that it can be anywhere from 4 times faster up to a possible ten times faster than the speeds achieved by 3G.

 EE: Olaf Swantee The Capabilities of the New EE Network

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, has gone on the record stating that people using the new 4G network will beat any existing UK mobile network hands down, and be at least five times faster than what people are currently using. He claimed, “It will open new digital trade routes and enable Britain to become a more modern, truly digital country – better connected with itself, its neighbours and the world.”

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, claimed the EE 4G network to be, “the greatest 4G network in the world.” He went on to say, “I barely understand it, but information will spout unstoppably from these gizmos. It will bring huge advantages to anyone who is living or working in London.”

Will it Replace the Need for Fixed Broadband?

Tech experts have already been discussing what benefits the new 4G network could bring internet users, and how it will change the way people currently connect to the internet. Traditionally, fibre-optic broadband has always been the fastest way for people to access the internet, with speeds of 100Mbps being achieved. The only problem with fibre-optic is that unless there is a hard wire connection to your house, you cannot take advantage of it. This leaves people who live in rural areas or places that haven’t been connected yet unable to take advantage of the benefits fibre-optic offers. The mobile broadband that the new 4G network offers could change all this, and could be the answer for people who want fast internet access but can’t get fibre-optic broadband. At the moment there are other options for people living outside of larger cities, like the 3G mobile networks, but these often don’t provide the speed needed to quickly view and interact with media rich websites. Streaming videos and music can be painfully slow, but telecommunication companies claim that the introduction of 4G will end this, for now anyway.

Mr Swantee summed up the advantages EE will bring to people without fixed broadband. “You can use 4G as an alternative to fixed broadband in areas where there are not many fibre cables.” He continued, “There are more than 2 million people who currently can’t get adequate fixed line broadband. Mobile broadband could make a huge difference for them.”


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