4G and the Future of Mobile

The potential offered by 4G for mobile internet is significant; compared to 3G, 4G represents an increase in speed and stability for smartphone and tablet users, and is set to increase in scope and pricing over the next six months in the UK through new deals from Vodafone and O2. What benefits, then, does 4G provide for individuals and businesses, and what is the current 4G coverage map for the UK?

What is 4G?

4G represents an upgraded mobile internet standard from 3G; it uses the same basic Long Term Evolution architecture, but on a wider bandwidth level and with increased multiplexing for stronger, more reliable signals. While 3G typically provides download speeds of up to about 10 Mbps, 4G offers average speeds of between 10 and 30 Mbps, with the potential to be much faster if you’re in the right area. To this end, a 4G internet connection on your phone or tablet could be faster than your existing home broadband package.

At present, 4G is only available in the UK through Everything Everywhere (EE), formerly Orange and T Mobile. However, Vodafone are entering the 4G market at the end of August, and O2 and Three will be joining by the end of the year. Since its launch last October, EE have offered varying data limit deals and promotions for businesses, who can particularly benefit from 4G’s provision of better video-conferencing, larger file transfers, and more reliable internet on the go.

In terms of coverage areas, the UK’s largest eleven cities were the first to receive 4G last year, and included London, Birmingham, and Cardiff. Vodafone are launching their 4G coverage in London, before expanding to the rest of the country through the end of 2013 and into 2014. O2 are planning to launch their service in London, Leeds, and Bradford, while all mobile carriers are expected to gradually expand to target as many people as possible by the end of 2014 and 2015.

Package deals for 4G contracts can vary quite considerably at the moment, with caps on data usage and different package options. EE offer entry level deals with 500 MB of data and unlimited calls and texts for £21, as well as £61 a month deals with 20 GB of data. Vodafone are prepping a 4G Red deal with unlimited texts and calls, and Sky Sports and Spotify access for £26 a month to existing customers. O2 are reportedly planning a SIM only, 1 GB a month tariff for £26 a month.

The future of mobile internet is therefore one where 4G is going to be the standard within a few years. As growth from major cities into rural areas takes place, 4G is also arguably going to become a more practical and flexible options for people that have traditionally had problems getting a decent signal through their 3G contracts. Businesses can similarly benefit from cost effective 4G deals over fixed line office broadband, and especially when trying to coordinate with employees in different parts of the country.

Rosette is a tech blogger with interests in mobile internet and smartphone technology. She recommends users check outwww.dclmobile.co.uk for the latest 4G offers.

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