Time to start preparing for 4G?
Posted: 30th Jul 2012
Will 2013 be the year for 4G?
It seems odd to recall now, but back when the iPhone first launched back in 2007 it didn’t even have a 3G antenna on board.
High speed internet connections to your handset might seem commonplace now, but just five years ago getting online from your phone was a chore – and when you did, accessing anything other than email was slow and tedious too.
What’s perhaps even more striking is that the iPhone launch was a full six years after the UK government auctioned off licences for the parts of the radio spectrum suitable for 3G signals, raising a massive £22.5bn in the process. In other words, it took nearly a decade since 3G first hit the headlines in 2001 for it to become commonplace.
Now the latest figures from the telecoms regulator Ofcom suggest that 42% of us would rather use our smartphones to browse the web than a PC or laptop. And that figure is growing rapidly.
Why do we bring this up? Because this week Ofcom has announced more details about how mobile operators will be allowed to bid for 4G licences, which as the name suggests is the successor to 3G and potentially capable of 100Mbps speeds. That would make the mobile internet faster than the best fixed line connections.
Other countries, like the US and South Korea, are already using 4G. Across Europe, however, the development and licensing of 4G networks has been slow and held up due to disagreement within the industry over standards and provision.
Ofcom’s plan, however, would see 98% of the British Isles covered by high speed mobile broadband, potentially curing the problems of ‘not spots’ – small pockets throughout the UK where little or no access is possible – in one fell swoop. There’s a short consultation period now due and bidding for licences will probably begin at the start of 2013.
Even if take up of 4G is quicker than 3G, though, it could still be years before everyone in the country is using it. Meanwhile, researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York are already working on a technology that might become 5G and has 1000 times the capacity of 4G. Don’t expect it any time soon though…
You might also like to read:
- What will superfast broadband mean to you?
- 4G mobile broadband launching in the UK
- Free wireless internet at the Olympics this summer
- Europe to spend billions on broadband
- Top ten places for broadband