Unlimited Broadband (12 month contract)
4G is the fourth generation of mobile phone technology, coming after 2G and 3G, and is offered by the majority of the UK’s mobile networks, including EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.
4G internet is capable of speeds comparable with what you can get from your home broadband, which has led to mobile networks offering 4G broadband products to consumers.
Instead of using telephone lines, 4G broadband routers use the same signal as your smartphone to access the internet. As 4G generally requires less infrastructure and therefore has more widespread availability, it has the potential to be worthwhile for people who struggle to get a good signal from their traditional ADSL/Cable internet service provider (ISP).
For most people, there are three ways to access 4G broadband in your home:
Generally speaking, 4G broadband is more expensive than standard fixed-line broadband. This is despite the fact that you would not have to pay line rental or for a landline you may not use.
The higher costs are largely down to the fact that there are few unlimited 4G broadband plans, whereas unlimited data use is common with fixed-line broadband. Monthly data plans can range from 2GB to 200GB, with prices starting from £10 and going up to £100 a month.
With such strict data limits and hefty charges for going over your data allowance, it's important to be aware of how much data common online activities use. The table below provides some examples:
|Web browsing (60 pages)||140-240MB|
|Stream music/radio (1 hour)||35-135MB|
|Netflix (1 hour, SD)||300-700MB|
|Netflix (1 hour, HD)||3GB|
|Skype/video call (1 hour)||350MB|
|Download 100 e-mails||10MB|
|Download 100 documents||200-500MB|
With 4G, speeds have become comparable and, in some cases, faster than fixed-line broadband. According to OpenSignal data, the 'Big Four' (EE, O2, Three and Vodafone) were able to achieve an average speed of 21.33Mbps, which is faster than many ADSL broadband products. 4G broadband is very unlikely to reach the speeds that fibre can reach, with some fibre providers offering up to 300Mbps for your home, but it should be sufficient to comfortably stream or download content with a strong enough signal.
Also, the speed you will get from your 4G broadband is dependent on many other factors, including how far you are from a mobile phone mast and how strong the signal is. If you experience patchy mobile phone service at home, then it is likely that you will experience similar issues with 4G broadband, affecting the speeds you can achieve.
Strict download limits and patchy service means that heavy internet users will probably not find 4G broadband to be right for them. However, if you are someone who lives in a rural area and struggles to get online using fixed-line broadband, or are a light user, 4G broadband can provide a useful way of getting online.