4G has finally become available in the UK. Well, parts of it at least.
The service, which is "set to offer a timely boost to the UK economy offering firms the opportunity to increase innovation, boost productivity and cut costs," has arrived.
Yet I’ve spend the majority of this morning grumbling about it to the ear of anyone who’ll listen.
It’s not the fact that the service has taken so long to hit UK shores. No, I’m perfectly happy with the fact that 4G was available in countries such as Angola, Tanzania and Kyrgyzstan (yes, really) before it was here.
I’m not overly upset with the pricing either. Don’t get me wrong, 4G is expensive. But that’s somewhat expected. Anytime a new service or product is launched, you expect to pay a premium for the chance to be one of the first to use it. It’s unfortunate but something that we’ve all grown accustomed to.
What really annoys me with 4G, is the way it is being marketed by EE – or Everything Everywhere – within the UK and how the firm is effectively misleading customers.
Yes, 4G is fast. Yes, it allows users to stream more of their favourite media on the go. But something about EE’s marketing campaign rubs me the wrong way.
Let’s look at the firm’s tariffs first.
Everything Everywhere’s entry level tariff is priced at £36 per month, which comes with just 500MB of data.
Now, bear that in mind as we look at what EE promises its customers with 4G.
- Access the web on the go in an instant
- Download large email attachments quicker than ever
- Watch live TV on the move without buffering
- Download high-definition movies in minutes
- Play live multiplayer games on the go
- Make high quality video calls on the move
I don’t need to tell you that you won’t be doing much of that with a measly 500MB of data. In fact, for a point of reference, just one hour of streaming content from BBC iPlayer will account for close to half of this data.
Of course, users can bolt on additional data to their package, but it certainly doesn’t come cheap. How does £3 for 50MB sound? Yeah, ouch.
EE’s top tariff provides users with a meatier 8GB of data for £56 per month, but again looking at the list from EE above, that still won’t get users very far.
And with all of that in mind, it’s clear that in order to actually experience the benefits of 4G, the only option for potential customers is to fork out for the top tariff.
Essentially, the firm is taking advantage of the UK’s desperate need for a faster, more reliable data service, whilst luring in customers with the promise of HD streaming and multiplayer gaming.
Interested parties who don’t necessarily need 4G may be forced to stick with 3G if they feel the costs outweigh the potential benefits.
Meanwhile, those users looking to reap the benefits as mentioned above will only be able to do so for an extreme premium and risk additional costs for something that the service is designed to offer. In effect, EE has trapped these users and marginalised others.
As it stands, nobody is set to benefit from the launch of 4G within the UK.