State of 4G in the UK
(Image Credit: Ofcom)
4G Launched in the UK 18 months ago when EE's 4G network went live. Since then, the three other big networks have launched their 4G (O2, Vodafone & 3), as well as some MVNOs. Today EE announced new prices, as a whole the price of 4G has gone down and the coverage has increased. So where are we now and where do we go from here?
Let's start with the prices.
4G still comes at a premium price on most networks, with only 3 and Tesco Mobile not charging extra for the privilege of using the ultrafast network. I have compiled a table breaking down the prices of 1 month and 12 month sim only price plans. Below you will find 12 month price plans. I advise viewing the linked PDF for more information including 30 day plans.
(Click here for larger image, please check out the PDF below for better quality and more details.)
I haven't compared 24 month contracts which include a device, or indeed family plans. These get far too complicated and would require an entire website to compare, not just a forum post on The Verge.
Next, we'll look at network coverage.
Thanks to launching around a year before the others, EE's 4G network undoubtably has the best coverage. They claim to reach around 70% of the UK population. Oddly however, 3 appears to have the next best coverage, despite being the last to launch their 4G network. O2 and Vodafone have similar coverage.
Note: Population coverage means coverage at registered home addresses and may not reflect actual coverage.
EE's 4G coverage, shown in green.
(Image Credit EE)
Finally, where will the networks be at the end of 2014 and beyond?
It's safe to say that 4 years from now, 4G networks should be as ubiquitous as 2G is today. O2 is obliged to make this happen, leaving the others to ensure they are competitive. Many networks have pledged to ensure their 4G networks cover 98% of the population as soon as next year, so there's much to look forward to. As more MVNOs launch 4G on their networks it is also likely we will see more competitive prices, something which has already started happening. Inevitably though, as we all start using these wonderful 4G networks, they will become almost as slow as the 3G we have come to know and love so much over the past 5 or so years. But before that, what will happen for the rest of this year? You can find out what the individual networks have to say below.
3's roadmap shows a list of areas where 4G will be live by the end of 2014.
EE's roadmap tells us about their commitment to cover commuter routes with 4G this year.
O2's roadmap simply states that the network will cover 98% of the UK population by the end of 2017.
Vodafone's roadmap shows of a list of locations which are starting to roll out 4G.
It would seem then, that 4G is looking rather good in the UK. We're in a much better place than we were 24 months ago and two years from now, 4G could be fully rolled out around the UK. Those of us in major cities with highly congested 3G networks can now breath once again, and it won't be long until those tiny rural villages will finally be able to ditch their ADSL home broadband.