Following the news this week that telecoms provider Everything Everywhere has been granted permission to roll out its 4G services, it has certainly become the hot topic of the week.
However, there are many who are still unaware of what exactly 4G is and what the technology brings to the table.
As the service is unleashed for the first time in the UK next month, lets run down what benefits users can expect.
WHAT IS 4G?
Widely recognised as 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution), the service is a significant upgrade on the currently used 3G service and is specifically designed to handle mobile data and internet more efficiently, which provides users with a more reliable and stable connection.
The service is certainly overdue, particularly within the UK, as mobile data across the globe increases 250% year on year, whilst over 40 countries are already benefiting from the service.
These countries range from the usual suspects such as USA, Russia and Japan, all the way to – perhaps surprisingly, countries including Angola, Kyrgyzstan and Tanzania.
As smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices become an increasingly essential part of our lives, the need for 4G has never been greater – and it’s not just to send that tweet faster or video chat for longer.
Most of these countries have heavily invested in 4G for the economic growth it promises to bring, as businesses connect with a greater worldwide audience and benefit from a faster, more reliable connection.
Of course, the benefits are for the consumer are certainly there too, pure and simple. An improved data service will allow users to do more of their favourite things, whether its watching TV, streaming audio and video, accessing social media or gaming on the go.
However, in order to benefit from the new service, consumers will have to fork out for a 4G capable device, such as the upcoming iPhone 5, which is heavily rumoured to feature LTE technology and be 4G ready.
Whilst most current 3G data plans are limited or restricted in some way or another, it is still unclear as to whether or not providers will limit their 4G services in the same way. It was announced this week that T-Mobile would offer truly unlimited data through its 4G service from September 5th, so it would be difficult to imagine rival providers not offering a similar service.
WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG?
The UK is well behind its European neighbours in terms of introducing its 4G infrastructure, as Sweden became the first European country to unleash its 4G services nearly four years ago.
Prior to this week’s announcement by Ofcom that Everything Everywhere would be allowed to offer its 4G services in September, the telecoms regulator had stated that it would be at least 2013 until the UK would see its first 4G services.
The reason for this being the service’s need for bandwidth (or spectrum as it is often called) from both the government and private investment.
As the parent company of both Orange and T-Mobile, Everything Everywhere has been granted permission to use its existing bandwidth to offer its 4G services, whilst Ofcom plans to auction of remaining bandwidth at the beginning of next year to other UK telecoms providers.
Because of this, many UK providers have hit back during the week at Ofcom’s decision to allow Everything Everywhere to launch its 4G services next month and essentially gain a head-start in the market.
There has been much discussion as to whether or not the company will benefit from this unrivaled opportunity and if – once other company’s roll out their services next year – will be able to catch up and claim a place within the new market.
4G is set to significantly upgrade the UK’s digital infrastructure and stage an evolution of mobile network technology, which will greatly benefit both consumers and businesses alike.
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