Politicians are already arguing over how to spend the cash that will come in after a deal was struck that will see 4G mobile internet hit the UK early next year.
A row between providers had been holding up the roll out of the new mobile internet standard. The Government had allowed Everything Everywhere, the merged T-Mobile and Orange who’ve just rebranded as EE, to steal a march by using part of their spare 2G capabilities to launch 4G.
Now threats of legal action have been dropped. EE will still get in first with a 10-city launch at the end of this month, with six more cities to follow by the end of the year. The rest of pack will get their services up and running by the summer of next year.
Many major economies including Germany and the USA, already have 4G (some minor ones like Estonia too). Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller reckons the UK will get a £2-3 billion bonus from the new, faster network. The auction for the bandwidth needed is likely to bring around £4 billion for the exchequer too.
EE is now promising: "superfast mobile internet at speeds typically five times faster than 3G speeds today". In fact, a standard speed test run by the Guardian found 4G was nine times faster when downloading and 4.5 times speedier on uploads. That, however, is on a virtually deserted network.
The lucky first ten cities are: Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow and Sheffield. Belfast, Derby, Hull, Nottingham, Newcastle and Southampton will be on 4G by the end of the year. You can check your postcode here (http://ee.co.uk/coverage).
The big deal with 4G is that it is bound to accelerate the move towards accessing the web on mobile devices. EE is, naturally, trumpeting the iPhone 5 link, but not all devices previously sold as 4G ready will work on their network. To ‘log on’ on October 30 you’ll need one of these: iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.
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