Superfast 4G on the cards for UK

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iol sciteh aug 22 4G REUTERS File photo: Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, speaks about 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) during an Apple event.

London - Superfast 4G mobile services which allow smartphones to run high-definition movies and download a song in just four seconds will be unveiled in time for Christmas in the UK.

The decision to give the go-ahead to the services, which are up to seven times faster than existing 3G mobile networks, has come much earlier than expected.

Initially, it was thought that 4G would not begin to be rolled out in the UK until next summer at the earliest.

But telecoms watchdog Ofcom has announced that Britain’s biggest mobile phone company Everything Everywhere will be allowed to launch its 4G service from as early as next month. The services will allow smartphone users to do everything their home broadband and wi-fi systems can do but “on the go” through mobile networks.

However, consumers will need to spend hundreds of pounds on new handsets which are compatible with the technology. A new iPhone 5, thought to be compatible with 4G, and other high-speed handsets are due to be launched by Christmas.

A number of other countries, including the US, parts of Scandinavia and the Far East, already have 4G. Britain’s adoption of the technology has been delayed because of a shortage of radio airwave spectrum to carry the services.

The necessary space was created by the shutting down of analogue TV signals and Ofcom is currently inviting mobile phone companies to bid for a share of the airwaves to run 4G services in an auction that is expected to raise more than £4.5-billion for the Government.

However, EE has managed to circumvent this process because it found sufficient spare spectrum on its existing 3G mast network to launch 4G now.

The decision has given EE, which owns the Orange and T-Mobile brands and has some 27 million customers, an advantage over rivals.

And Vodafone claimed consumers would lose out because EE would effectively have a monopoly.

It said: “We are shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision.

“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion.”

But EE hailed Ofcom’s decision as “great news for the UK”.

It said: “4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year.” - Daily Mail

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