Tablets: What is 4G LTE?
- What does 4G LTE mean?
- What’s the difference between 3G and 4G LTE?
- Will the iPad 4G work on 4G LTE in the UK?
- When will 4G LTE launch in the UK?
What is 4G LTE?
4G LTE is a wireless mobile communications technology sometimes referred to simply as ‘4G’ – it’s the natural successor to ‘3G’ mobile networks, allowing mobile phones to access the internet at speeds similar to many home broadband connections. It’s also known by some as 3GPP Long Term Evolution.
How fast is 4G LTE?
It should be fast enough to stream internet videos without having to suffer buffering and potentially allow you to download HD videos in a matter of minutes. EE, the first 4G network in the UK, claims its 4G network is five times faster than 3G networks.
The theoretical peak download speeds for 4G LTE are 20Mb/s, but in reality speeds will be lower – real-world speeds for 4G LTE networks in the United States vary between 8 Mbits/s and 12 Mbits/s.
Some versions of 3G, such as HSPA+, can offer similar speeds. Where 4G LTE has an advantage is in ‘latency’ – the time delay in responding to actions. 4G LTE’s superior latency means it’s more responsive, which improves the overall experience.
Where can I get 4G LTE?
EE is the first network to launch a 4G service in the UK and began to roll out the service in September 2012. This is from the company that owns Orange and T-Mobile and it claims that users of these networks will be able to easily upgrade to the new 4G service.
Initially the service will only be available in major cities, but EE claims it will be available to 70% of the population by the end of 2013 and 98% of the population by the end of 2014.
The other mobile networks will be launching 4G services in spring 2013.
How much will it cost?
So far only EE has revealed its pricing for 4G and it is very expensive. Contracts start at £21 a month for a Sim only plan, but for this you only get 500MB of data each month - which you could potentially use up in a matter of minutes at 4G speeds. For more information read our article on EE pricing.
Will I need a new phone?
To access the new network you will need a 4G-enabled phone. EE will be launching 4G handsets from Apple, HTC, Huawei, Nokia and Samsung. It is also offering 4G dongles and personal hotspot products.
The was previously sold in a ‘Wi-Fi + 4G’ version, but it will not work on UK 4G LTE networks when they become available and Apple has been forced to change the name to 'Wi-Fi + Cellular'.
Why doesn't the iPad with Wi-Fi & 4G work 4G LTE in the UK?
While the iPad does support 4G in the United States and Canada, the UK and Europe are using different ‘frequencies’ for 4G LTE. The iPad supports 700MHz and 2,100MHz frequencies, while the UK will predominately use the 800MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,600MHz frequencies to deliver 4G LTE.
Are there any disadvantages of 4G?
Aside from the extra cost of getting a 4G service, there is a suggestion that 4G may use up more power and drain batteries faster than accessing the internet on a 3G handset. We will be taking a close look at this in our lab tests once the phones go on sale.