What is 4G?
What is 4G?
4G is a step forward for mobile broadband. The successor to 3G, it lets you access the internet on the move. However, unlike the older technology, 4G gives you much faster speeds - comparable to most home broadband, in fact.
Basically, 4G gives you a much faster, much smoother internet experience on your mobile phone - particularly if you're doing data-intensive things like watching videos, or playing games online.
Which networks offer 4G?
4G plans are now available from most UK networks. The longest established 4G network is EE, and the operator also has the widest 4G coverage, reaching more than 160 towns.
O2 and Vodafone arrived later to the 4G party. As a result, their coverage is more limited, based primarily in major cities rather than towns, including London, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield. However, both companies will be expanding their 4G networks in 2014, so use a coverage checker to see if you can get it in your area.
Three has also started offering 4G to a limited selection of customers incorporating it into standard plans. This isn't widespread yet, but its 4G options are expected to expand over 2014.
Why get 4G?
Once you've experienced 4G, it's hard to go back to a 3G plan. That?s because the extra speed available means you'll be able to do so much more on the go. For example, with 4G you?ll be able to:
- Get a smooth, responsive internet browsing experience.
- Watch videos at much higher quality - even in HD.
- Experience less buffering and loading when watching videos or listening to music.
- Upload photos and videos to Facebook/Twitter much faster than 3G.
- Download apps quickly, and without the need for a Wi-Fi connection.
4G: things to watch out for
As great as 4G is, there are a number of things you should consider before you sign up for a contract:
- Coverage is limited - 4G is still fairly new to the UK, and it's only available in certain parts of the country. Check coverage where you live before signing up to make sure you can get it.
- Cost - 4G plans are typically more expensive than 3G ones. And if you pick a plan with a particularly high data limit, you might be surprised by how much you have to shell out each month.
- Data limits - The data limits on 4G plans can be surprisingly small. If you use mobile internet more than before, likely considering how much more you can do with 4G, you might find you start running out of data on lower-end plans.
- Phone selection - Not every handset in the UK will support 4G, and some older ones will only support certain 4G networks. Naturally, only 4G-compatible mobiles are available with 4G plans, but if you're going sim-only, or hoping to use an old phone, you should check it's 4G-ready.