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UK 4G networks finally arrive as EE switches on high-speed network

30 Oct 2012
Mobile spectrum antenna against sunset

The long wait for 4G networks in the UK came to an end on Tuesday after EE switched on its network for customers across 11 cities.

The move means any customers that have purchased a 4G-enabled smartphones, such as the iPhone 5, and have a 4G contract from EE can access the firm's high-speed network.

It represents a milestone moment in the UK's mobile history where, having led the market for 3G auctions and deployments in 2000, it has fallen far behind other nations such as the US and Germany for 4G services.

The rollout of 4G networks has been hampered over the years by in-fighting between the warring mobile operators and with telecoms regulator Ofcom and government over the auctions for the new services in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.

The auctions for these spectrums are still not set to take place until the start of 2013 but EE - formerly called Everything Everywhere and formed as the result of a merger between Orange and T-Mobile - has been able to convert its 2G spectrum at 1800MHz to 4G services.

It was given this right at the behest of Ofcom who then moved to appease rival operators O2 and Vodafone by bringing forward the auctions for the other spectrum holdings to early 2013 with the aim of having them live by spring of the year.

The 4G services from EE are touted as having up to five times greater speeds than 3G networks and when V3 had the chance to try the network out on Monday we saw speeds ranging from 20Mbit/s to 36Mbit/s, enabling us to download a 25MB app in six seconds (see below).

You can see if you can access 4G services from EE via their coverage checker.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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