EE sets October date to power up UK 4G network
Works not quite on everything, not quite everywhere
Mobile operator EE will launch its UK 4G service on 30 October. Switching on its next-gen mobile broadband network will no doubt cheer Apple iPhone 5 fanbois for whom 3G's 8Mb/sec just isn't fast enough.
EE has a monopoly on 4G, at least until after Ofcom's radio frequency auction in January, so the UK's largest network operator is squeezing all the PR it can out of the exclusivity - which is why we now have a date and a promise of coverage to ten cities, but no idea how much it's going to cost.
Anyone wanting 4G this year will have to take up an EE contract, even if they've already got one with Orange or T-Mobile, both of which are brands owned by EE. The operator, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, will probably let punters out of their existing contract obligations, but it has said the new contract will have its own duration.
Customers can stick with Orange or T-Mobile, of course, or any of the other operators if they're happy with their HSDPA+ service, which can deliver data close to the 30-ish megabits-per-second 4G EE will offer. But doing so won't get them the little "4G" logo.
Only EE and Three are likely to ever offer that icon on the iPhone 5: Apple's flagship mobe won't work on the frequencies being auctioned next year, and Three won't get access to the right bands until September 2013, so expect to see lots of EE ads showing an iOS handsets sporting the "4G" iconography over the next few months.
It's not just the iPhone, though: from today Orange and T-Mobile will sell four different 4G mobes to their customers, who'll then have to take on an EE contract to use the 4G capability. Those handsets are the Samsung Galaxy SIII, Nokia's Lumia range and the HTC One XL as well as Huawei's Ascend P1 LTE. All those, except the exclusive Ascend, will work on the auctioned bands too*, unlike the iPhone 5. ®
* The 'XL won't work on 800MHz, but it does support 2.6GHz which is also up for auction in January.
Not worth worrying about...
Let the early adopters go through the pain.
By the time coverage is at least worthwhile and technical issues have been put to bed, your S3, iPhone 5 etc will have been replaced by the S4 and iPhone 5S.
I'm staying on my current phone, stable with 3G on a cheap rate until 4G is worth the effort.
The Big Reveal
Yes, they're now flogging the phones, but they've still not pulled the proverbial pricing rabbit out of the hat, nor revealed how G's of data you'll get for your money.
So, still in a holding pattern until this information becomes clear.
One thing's for sure
Whatever the basic price turns out to be, however fast their version of '4G' actually is, the data allowance they'll offer will certainly be absolutely woeful. We've had mobile data for years, and yet only one company to offer a useable data allowance at anything approaching a sane price, and it aint EE.
It always amuses to see network ads promising 'faster movie downloads', when half your allowance will probably be spanked by jumping, flashing ads before you even get to the content, leaving about enough to watch half an episode of the IT Crowd at low res before the "you have exceeded your allowance for the month" wazzes from a great height on your 'early adopter' super-mega-uber festival of speed. My guess is the top drawer package offering no more that 3GB/"unlimited(but not really)".
And how come the only justification for 4G they can ever come up with is video? I can really see the FTSE 100 CEOs cracking a boner over improving staff morale by facilitating Eastenders in HD. 4G will have its day when allowances actually reflect potential modern usage, which I wouldn't expect any time soon.