Finally Britons have been given the chance to join millions of Americans, Finns, South Koreans and Australians after Everything Everywhere was given the go ahead to deploy the country’s first commercial 4G network.
The giant operator, which is a merger of Orange and T-Mobile, will switch on its network in October. The new signalling standard for 4G networks, called Long-Term Evolution (LTE), will allow smartphone users to download data 10 times the speed currently allowed by 3G networks. Within a few years it is predicted that 4G will be around three times faster than the most expensive home broadband packages on offer.
The decision by Ofcom essentially gives Everything Everywhere a head start over rivals Vodafone and O2. The UK’s second and third largest carriers are not able to start using the new bandwidth until after a radio spectrum auction which is due to conclude in March of next year. They stated this week that the regulator had created a temporary monopoly in allowing Everything Everywhere to switch to 4G before they could. Ofcom countered, however, saying that the need to keep the UK in the digital race was more important than any complaints about competition.
Everything Everywhere has still not released details of how extensive its 4G coverage will be, but it is expected to take years before the whole of the UK is covered. Islands of 4G coverage will spring up around the major cities first, where investment is likely to be highest.
By 2015 almost the entire population should be able to use the new network as operators have agreed to 98 percent coverage across the country. However, for those who prefer their older handsets, the 2G networks will still be around for the foreseeable future. So good old fashioned text messages and regular phone calls still have some time before they are consigned to the history books.
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