On 30th October 2012 the telecommunications firm EE (Everything Everywhere) launched what is the UK’s first 4G cellular communications network, covering eleven cities.
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At the end of October, EE (Everything Everywhere, a firm resulting from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile) launched the first 4G network to operate in the UK. It promises higher download speeds for data customers than the 3G networks of the other UK cellular or mobile telephony firms, but at the moment only covers parts of eleven cities: London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Southampton. A furthersix cities are expected to have at least partial coverage by the end of the year.
What does 4G actually mean? It signifies a network that uses the 4th generation of technology for the radio link between the network towers (base stations) and the mobile handsets carried by users. Each new generation uses more sophisticated radio modulation and coding techniques, allowing data to be carried at faster rates – the end result being faster download times for users accessing data services.
To access a 4G network you need a device that has a 4G radio modem. Which such phones are EE offering to use with their network? Well at the time of writing, their website had the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE, the HTC One XL, the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920, the Samsung Galaxy Note II LTE and the Huawei Ascend P1 LTE phones. They also offer the Huawei
The different generations of cellular radio technology don’t sit very well together so they are usually kept apart in different bands of the radio spectrum. In the UK, a band was allocated for 4G services and the UK authorities planned to sell it to the various mobile telecommunications firms in auctions in spring 2013. 4G services would not be able to be launched in that band until after then. However the firm Everything Everywhere had spare spectrum originally intended for other services and petitioned the UK Government to be allowed to launch a 4G service in it. EE have therefore been able to launch their 4G network months ahead of the other main UK mobile operators, something that has caused much ire and recriminations!
Whatever the rights and wrongs of allowing one firm to launch whilst holding the others back, it is now done. EE’s 4G network has been live for almost three weeks now, adding the UK to the growing number of countries which have nascent 4G networks.
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Wikipedia article on EE