Finally! 4G networks will launch in 2013

by Dale Wright

Apple got into hot water when the marketed the new iPad as 4G compatible. The new high-speed mobile technology isn’t yet available in the UK, but we’re finally seeing signs of progress.

Unfortunately, UK consumers still have a long wait ahead.
 Finally! 4G networks will launch in 2013
Image from the ‘Sprint’ 4g campaign.

Already, 4G has been launched in the USA, parts of Asia and some countries in Europe. But the UK’s regulator has been contending with legal hassles that have delayed UK networks for several years.

Ofcom are arranging auctions to allow networks to buy up space on the brand new 4G spectrum. These auctions are likely to be held in the first quarter of 2013, so we should be able to start using 4G phones by the end of 2013. Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile), Vodafone and Telefonica (O2) are definitely going to place a bid.

To bring prices down, Ofcom have reserved the fourth chunk of space for a smaller company. Hutchinson 3G, the company behind the 3 network, are favourites to win that reserved allocation, although there are other even smaller companies who may compete with them to bring new 4G tariffs to market.

So what will 4G mean for consumers? Super fast mobile broadband access will be commonplace once 4G is established, and signals will also be improved. It’s expected that 98% of the UK population will be covered – good news if you’re currently living in a 3G black spot – although Ofcom have given networks an additional four-year deadline to meet this target. Any 4G-enabled device will be able to download video and audio much more quickly, and the new frequencies will free up congestion on 3G.

If you’re in the market for a new tablet or smartphone and you don’t expect to replace it anytime soon, the new iPad is one device which is future-proofed. You may want to consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 if you’d prefer to invest in an Android device.