Britain will get its first 4G mobile internet network within the next few weeks, after regulators approved plans by Everything Everywhere to reuse its old spectrum licences.
It will mean that for months Everything Everywhere’s network will be the only one to make the most of the upcoming smartphones and tablets which will have 4G mobile internet capabilities as standard. They will typically offer downloads 10 times faster than its 3G network.
Eventually, downloads at up to 300 megabits per second will be possible, three times faster than the current fastest fixed line broadband packages.
Rival networks opposed Everything Everywhere’s spectrum’s plans, but Ofcom said the benefits to consumers from getting 4G services sooner outweighed claims that it would give Everything Everywhere an unfair advantage. Everything Everywhere has agreed to sell some of its radio spectrum to Three in order to satisfy competition concerns, but O2 and Vodafone will have to bid for new spectrum licences at auction later this year. They are expected to introduce their 4G networks from next year.
However, reports indicate that Everything Everywhere will not physically release the spectrum itself until September next year, which is the latest date require by Europe for them to divest some of its 1800MHz band. In other words Everything Everywhere will still get a head-start on everybody else with 4G, so Three will just have to wait.
Britain is already years behind the United States and some European countries in deploying faster mobile internet services, leading to widespread criticism of bureaucratic delays. But what does this mean for us here in the UK? Will 4G solve all our slow internet woes?
Our MD Peter Gradwell explains “We shouldn’t get carried away too soon; those familiar patches where your 3G signal fails on the train area likely to remain, and the pressure to build those most unpopular of new structures –the unloved mobile phone mast – will increase.”
As far as internet weak spots such as rural areas are concerned, Peter speculates as to whether 4G will make a difference. “Everything Everywhere has handily avoided needing to commit to the universal coverage obligation, guaranteeing access across the country to a strong mobile signal and an important part of Ofcom’s 4G auction. So in the short term at least, it’s likely that the frustrations we have with our mobiles will remain – and some parts of the country will sadly remain firmly in the Internet slow lane.”
What do you think? Will 4G really make a difference to the way we use technology?