Phone giant O2 has finally announced plans for its long-awaited 4G network. The new network will go live later this month and the company claims its service will offer faster download speeds for up to five million people at launch.
The superfast 4G network will be switched on in London, Leeds and Bradford and will then be rolled out to an additional two million people per month.
By the end of the year the network will be live in a further 10 cities (Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh) though specific switch-on dates have yet to be confirmed.
What is 4G?
4G is a next generation mobile technology that promises home broadband levels of internet speed on the move. Because of this, 4G is ideally suited for services which demand more capacity like video streaming and downloading music and movies.
Regulator Ofcom estimates that download speeds could be around five to seven times those of existing 3G networks. This would mean that a music album that takes 20 minutes to download on a 3G phone would only take three minutes over 4G.
For more information about 4G read our guide to what is 4G?
How to get 4G
To access 4G speeds users will need a 4G phone and a special 4G tariff. O2 has yet to announce details of its 4G tariffs though it has confirmed that the cheapest deal will cost £26 per month.
Rival EE offers a sim-only 4G deal for £21 per month though the cheapest deal with a supplied 4G phone costs £26 per month.
O2 has announced that its 4G packages will come with a 30 day Happiness Guarantee allowing customers to switch to a 3G tariff if they’re not happy after 30 days. Additionally anyone buying their 4G deal directly from O2 will get a year’s ‘free music content’, though it has yet to announce what this will involve.
The network will sell a range of 4G phones including the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 but not Apple’s iPhone 5. This is because O2’s 4G network will broadcast on the 800MHz band, which Apple’s device doesn’t support.
Visit our tech blog to read a round-up of the best 4G phones.
Rival networks Vodafone and Three are expected to launch their own 4G networks later in the year though haven’t confirm any further information.