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4G Mobile Broadband

Also referred to as LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology.

4G technology will make more efficient use of radio waves to allow data to be transmitted much faster than before. As well as a speed improvement, 4G should massively increase network capacity and coverage.

EE Mobile Broadband4G mobile broadband is now available from EE.

Where Have the 4G Mobile Broadband Trials Taken Place?

In Oct 2011, T-Mobile launched the UK's first 4G trial in Cornwall.

From May to July 2012, Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange) performed a 1,800MHz based 4G trial in Threlkeld, Cumbria, See YouTube Video. The trial achieved broadband speeds of 20Mbps.

Up to summer 2012, O2 has run the largest 4G LTE trial network in the UK. The network was made up of 25 sites and covered over 40 kilometres of Central London. The top speed achieved in the trial was 100 Mbps. View more info at the O2 site.

How Fast Will 4G Broadband Be?

Initially, 4G is expected to be around 10 times the speed of 3G networks, with download speeds of around 20Mbps. Note that the top speed achieved in O2's 2012 trial was 100 Mbps. After further network upgrades, it is hoped that speeds of 300Mbps will be possible. Upload speeds could be 50Mbps or more.

4G will also be quicker than 3G at getting up to full speed. At the moment 3G can take 2 seconds to get up to speed, whereas 4G will only take 0.1 seconds.

The internet experience under 4G should reflect these big steps forward. For example, videos will stream seamlessly, and as soon as you press play, the video will start. The mobile online gaming experience should also finally be as good as the home experience is now.

Here's an example video of 4G LTE service in Nashville, America, giving an idea of the speeds possible. Note however, we do not know how exactly how well 4G will perform under network load in the UK.

What Will the Benefits of 4G Be?

The mobile web will finally offer decent performance for data intensive activities, e.g. online gaming, streaming videos and music. Downloading a movie in standard definition will only take 10 minutes or so. In a nutshell, the mobile broadband experience should be as good as the fast home broadband experience is now.

Will You Need a New Mobile Broadband Dongle or Phone to Use 4G?

Yes you will.

When Will 4G Mobile Broadband Services be Launched?

Everything Everywhere will be able to switch on its 4G network in October after Ofcom ruled it could make use of surplus 1,800MHz radio spectrum created when T-Mobile and Orange merged. A key factor in Ofcom's decision was its desire to see Britain keep up with the other countries that already have 4G networks.

The other operators will be rolling out their 4G networks from the middle of 2013, and their 4G mobile broadband services are expected to be launched at the end of 2013.

Who Will be the First Provider to Offer a 4G Mobile Broadband Service?

After an Ofcom decision to let Everything Everywhere make use of its surplus 1,800MHz radio spectrum for 4G, they will be the first to offer 4G mobile broadband commercially, in October 2012. However, a new provider name yet to be announced will be used for the 4G service.

How Will 4G Be Rolled Out?

Mast upgrades to 4G will initially be performed in cities, where the return on investment will be highest. It is hoped that by 2015, 98% of the population will have coverage.

Which Cities Will Get 4G Coverage First?

10 cities will be included in the 4GEE network launch, these being Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

It is hoped that six further cities will be added by the end of 2012, these being Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton.

How Much UK Coverage will 4G Mobile Broadband Provide?

By 2015 it is hoped 4G will reach 98% of people in villages, towns and cities. Outdoor coverage is easier to provide than indoor coverage, and it's possible that 99% of the UK population will have outdoor coverage.

Will 4G Mobile Broadband be Able to Cope Better with High Demand in Urban Areas?

4G will make use of a high frequency 2.6GHz band which should in theory be able to deliver the capacity needed for fast speeds.

Which Frequency Bands will 4G Make Use Of?

1,800MHz will be used by Everything Everywhere for the first 4G service in October 2012.

800 MHz, and 2.6 GHz will be auctioned in early 2013 for rollout in late 2013. The lower frequency band should be good for widespread mobile coverage, whilst the higher frequency band should be good for delivering the capacity for higher speeds.

How Will 4G Spectrum Bands be Allocated to Operators?

The spectrum bands are due to be auctioned to bidders by Ofcom in a series of lots. Bidders will need to apply towards the end of 2012, and the bidding phase will start in early 2013.

How Much Spectrum is Being Offered in the 4G Auction?

The 4G auction will be offering the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use today. This is some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in the year 2000. The two bands being offered provide 250 MHz of additional mobile spectrum, compare to the 333 MHz in use today.

What Technology is Behind 4G?

OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) - A radio technology which makes very efficient use of available radio bandwidth and minimises interference. This radio technology is also used by WiFi and DVB-T (digital TV).