With the recent hype from Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) about their new 4G LTE Service which they are calling 4GEE, many comparisons are being made between existing 3G and the new 4G wireless broadband services. EE (Everything Everywhere) are using some Ofcom report which states that the average 3G Speed in the UK is only 1-2Mbps and their new 4G service will be five times faster (I suppose that means 5-10Mbps).
This 1-2Mbps is not the reality for most users and since Three.co.uk updated their 3G network to the new HSPA+service which offers download speeds up to 21Mbps, many users find that their download and upload speeds on 3G are around 5-6Mbps for download and 2Mbps for upload and many users of traditional fixed line ADSL broadband services in rural and semi-rural locations do not get this kind of speed and are moving to 3G wireless broadband internet.
When we tested our 3 Mobile SIM card inside a Zalip CDG561WE 3G Router which is a HSPA+ Router we consistently got 12Mbps download speeds and 2Mbps upload speeds which we thought was very impressive.
So when you are asking the question How Fast is 4G then you should also ask How Fast Is 3G so you can make a proper comparison when deciding whether or not to invest in a new 4G LTE Router or 4G Modem and whether existing 3G mobile broadband is enough for you especially as many networks still cap your 3G data limits when using a 3G Modem, 3G Dongle or 3G Router with many of the uncapped 3G data plans only available for use in 3G Smartphones.
What makes the UK Telecoms market different to other countries?
In the UK, particularly since deregulation got into full swing in the early 90’s the UK has been arguably one of the most vibrant and competitive telecoms markets in the world. The 90’s saw the arrival of the Cable companies primarily backed by US money and a serious ‘we are going to show you guys how to build a network buddy attitude!’ They came, they went. They spent a whole lot of money and they left what is now Virgin Media to pick up the pieces of confusion and debt. But, they did leave, I believe, one of the most advanced access networks in the world. One in fact that BT are still trying to emulate today with their ‘fibre to the curb’ roll out. Virgin Media have fibre to within 500M or less of the majority of urban houses in the UK. They also have 2 distinct networks, one offering Broadcast TV and the other Telephony. It doesn’t reach the rural areas as that proved too expensive to build in the early days when there were regulatory targets to meet. But it does mean that they can offer super fast, by today’s standards, broadband speeds and they are doing this today over their TV infrastructure with cable modems. It does also mean that they have choices in the future as to how they turn up the wick on their bandwidth delivery.
This all sounds great and if you compare the speed you can get on VM to the other UK broadband suppliers, it is, on average faster at around 12 – 14M. But, compare this to what you can get from an efficient HSPA service on Mobile Broadband. Where there is service and capacity you will see similar speeds of 12Mbit/s on your speed test! Personally I would not believe it until I saw it myself recently. This is the tip of the iceberg if you read what LTE and 4G services can deliver to even a moving point, let alone a fixed wireless point i.e. 500Mbit/s + . It makes the fixed network look quite lame. But all is not that simple – is it ever?! Right now, if you turned that speed onto your mobile network you would need to call your Bank Manager everyday to arrange an overdraft. There are considerable obstacles to overcome both technically and commercially to make these networks seriously competitive in the medium term but fasten your seatbelts as the fast ride into the competitive future is very close at hand and that can only be good for consumers!