Super-fast ‘4G’ mobile broadband launched in the UK last week, but only with one network and in certain cities.
The 4G LTE service is from EE (the mobile phone network created when T-Mobile and Orange teamed up) and is initially available in London, Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield and Southampton.
With an appropriate 4G smartphone like the new iPhone 5 or a USB modem for a laptop, 4G can deliver mobile download speeds of up to 12Mbit/s, which is on a par with many home broadband connections and around five times faster than 3G.
The only catch is the cost and the cheapest EE tariff costs £36 for unlimited calls and text messages each month, but just 500MB of data.
That may be enough for casual email and web browsing (neither of which will really benefit from the faster download speed).
However, half that amount of data will be gobbled up by watching a one-hour programme on BBC iPlayer, which makes EE’s offer of a free film download each week rather perplexing.
More to the point, 4G coverage is still patchy in the 11 cities it’s so far available in, but that should improve as the network develops — as will the prices, hopefully.