Last week, EE became the first UK provider to take over the vacant Analogue TV band to provide consumers with access to the new 4G network.
4G is said to revolutionise the quality of internet access on the move, and should enable people to surf and stream considerably faster than before, allowing seamless HD playback.
The network has gone live (or is soon to go live) in 11 cities and will expand by a further five before the end of 2012 to cover 20 million people in total, roughly a third of the UK population. By Christmas, coverage will include:
The new 4G network is available on a number of handsets, including the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, HTC One XL and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE.
The launch of 4G is also cited as a major boost to the economy. EE says that it expects to invest £1.4 million per day on improving the network over the next three years, which could help to create and sustain 125,000 jobs.
Research by Capital Economics suggests that the full roll-out of 4G will add 0.5% to the UK’s GDP per year, as well as providing turbo mobile broadband to over 10 million people who would otherwise struggle to get fiber-optic cable broadband before the end of the decade.
Out of Reach
It’s frustrating to be able to offer little more than you may have already read. Based in Leicester, we are surrounded by 4G-connected cities (Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham), without being connected ourselves.
As well as location, our consensus is that price and value are similarly out of reach during the honeymoon period.
Once the financial hurdle of a costly new handset (£150+) is overcome, the cheapest package is £36 per month for just 500 megabytes. Needless to say, with high-definition streaming at the fingertips, this allocation will be consumed in no time. Packages escalate up to £56 per month for data allowances of up to 8 gigabytes.
EE claims that it has priced the service as a “mass market proposition” and contends that the premium is excellent value for the speed on offer and the continued investment in the service. There’s no competition in sight, either, with an effective monopoly on the service until mid-2013.
4G is also likely to add considerable strain to battery life, which has already deteriorated considerably with the development of smartphones. There’s also the question of how the service will cope with the expected influx of users. At up to £56 per month, we’ll expect consumers to have little tolerance of poor service and downtime.
So much technological advancement is worthy of celebration And yet, how it is brought to market is often what defines how high that recognition goes and what kind of legacy the product will carry into the future.
We’re launching a new company, a new brand for Britain, and a new network for Britain as well. 4G technology is now here, giving customers five times faster internet speed on their mobile. Using things like Facebook, Google Maps, browsing websites – all of that’s going to be five times faster and a much better experience when you’re out and about.
We also expect 4G to start growing new services; things like film and video that customers on 3G aren’t using so much because the experience isn’t quite as fast as it is on 4G. We’ve got a great entry level price plan which gives more than enough data for most people, but we go right up to big big data packages for heavy users as well.
By Christmas, close to 20 million of the UK population will be covered with 4G, and by the end of 2014, 98% of the population of the UK will be getting 4G. This is great for UK PLC, consumers and businesses right up and down the country. Britain needs a strong and thriving digital economy, and this is part of our £1.5 billion investment over the next three years to build a great digital infrastructure for Britain.
Marc Allera, Chief Sales Officer, EE