4G phones come to UK - but will iPhone 5 be among them?
After years of delay, a 4G mobile network will be launched by EE in four UK cities within weeks
BRITISH mobile phone users will soon be able to use fourth generation mobile broadband, also known as 4G. EE (formerly Everything Everywhere, the owners of Orange and T-Mobile) announced the launch of their superfast mobile service at an event at London’s Science Museum today. The company says that by Christmas 40 per cent of the UK population will be covered by 4G.
London mayor Boris Johnson said: "I barely understand it, but information will spout unstoppably from these gizmos. It will bring huge advantages to anyone living or working in London."
WHAT IS 4G?
The fourth generation of mobile services. While 3G mobile phone technology brought us download speeds of 5Mbps if you were lucky, 4G promises a rate of up to 100Mbps.
The higher speeds mean that finally it will be an enjoyable experience to watch TV, make video calls and play live multiplayer video games on the move. 4G is not just for phones; with the right hardware, you will be able to access the network on your laptop or tablet too.
WHERE IS 4G BEING LAUNCHED?
Test networks in London, Bristol, Birmingham and Cardiff are being switched on today. Twelve more cities will be added before Christmas: Southampton, Derby, Nottingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle and Belfast.
This accounts for 40 per cent of the UK population. By the end of 2013, coverage will be up to 70 per cent of the population and that will expand to 98 per cent by the end of 2014.
HOW CAN I GET 4G?
You need to be an EE customer and have the right handset. When the network launches next month, it will offer a range of phones, including Samsung's Galaxy S3 LTE, HTC's One XL, Huawei's Ascend P1 LTE and the newly unveiled Nokia Lumia 920 and 820.
EE will also be launching products which can be plugged into your laptop to make a 4G connection.
DOES THE IPHONE 5 USE 4G?
Yes, but British users won’t know if it is compatible with the EE network until the Apple launch event tomorrow. For the iPhone 5 to work in the UK, it will have to "support LTE in the 1800Mhz band", according to The Register.
WHEN WILL 4G BE AVAILABLE ON OTHER NETWORKS?
If you’re not prepared to take an EE contract, you could be in for a long wait. The launch of 4G in the UK has been held back by the threat of legal battles between the mobile networks, The Daily Telegraph reports.
EE has spare radio spectrum which it is using to support its 4G network and has been given permission by industry regulator Ofcom to go ahead. But other networks, which do not have spare spectrum, must wait until an auction of radio frequencies takes place next year.
The other operators have threatened to challenge EE’s plans in court, their objection being that EE will have an effective monopoly for up to a year.
The Telegraph says that Three is likely to offer a 4G service early in 2013, but Vodafone and O2 will probably have to wait until next summer at the earliest.