4G is the future, but only dedicated uploaders of content and those who want streamed video on the go need to rush in now
The UK finally has a 4G mobile network, or rather 11 cities in the UK have their own 4G networks with great swathes uncovered land between them. If you’re one of the lucky urbanites to receive coverage then you might have been wowed at talk of speeds that rival fast home broadband connections. However, before rushing to sign up there are a few things you should consider, both practical hurdles like new hardware and a pricey new contract, as well as some guidance on what 4G is good for, and what it’s not.
THE PRACTICAL BIT
The new 4G network is run by a new company, once called Everything Everywhere it’s now simply know as EE. EE is owned by the same people that run the T-Mobile and Orange networks. At present it’s the only 4G network available, as it uses the current 1800MHz band. Rivals will have to bid for space on the new 850MHz and 2.1GHz bands in Spring 2013 before launching their competing services.
EE is only 4G player in town at present, and it’s only in the biggest towns as well
The UK’s first 4G network uses a technology called Long Term Evolution, more commonly known as LTE. To make use of the new network you’ll need a handset that supports this standard. The only one in wide circulation today is the new iPhone 5, if you have any other phone then you’ll need to upgrade to receive 4G – which will likely put off anyone who’s bought, or signed up for, a shiny new Android handset in recent months. We tested the service with the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE, but it’s also available on a special LTE version of the Samsung S3, as well as on the Windows Phone 8-powered Nokia Lumia 920. Now that’s a pretty impressive line-up of hardware, so you shouldn’t have to worry about compromising your handset to get 4G. 4G is also available for other devices, such as laptops, via a Huawei Mobile Wi-Fi hub or USB dongle.
We used a Huawei Ascend to initially test the EE service
If you have an iPhone 5 sim-free, and you aren’t currently tied into a contract or are with Orange or T-Mobile, then switching to EE is straightforward – just call them up and port your number over to a new contract. It’s worth noting that the current iPhone won’t work with upcoming rival services on other bands, though competition may lower prices of course. In almost any other case, you’ll need to take out a new 2-year contract with EE, we’ve reviewed a number of the devices above, but choosing a tariff is a little trickier.
next page … TARIFFS, PRICES and SPEEDS