UK 4G coverage could start in 2012

By Posted 23 Feb 2012, 09:55

Yesterday we told you how some residents in the UK will need a special filter to prevent interference from the 4G signal for their TV reception. Today we can tell that the UK 4G coverage could begin its rollout in 2012 if one company gets its way.

Everything Everywhere is hoping to get permission to provide 4G coverage to its customers by the end of the year. The company is the largest cell phone provider in the UK with 27 million customers, and as a report on The Guardian is stating it will also mean customers of Virgin Media and Three will also benefit as those company’s use the same network.

The country has fallen behind the likes of the US and Germany with 4G technology with some residents still struggling to even get 3G coverage. Countries such as France and Italy are further ahead than the UK in auctioning off spectrum to provide a 4G service. In the UK auctions have been delayed by various legal arguments, and are not expected to be completed until the beginning of 2013.

Everything Everywhere has applied to Ofcom for permission to change some of its 1800MHz spectrum, which is already used for slower 3G connections over to 4G. Everything Everywhere was created with the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, and the company also has an agreement with rival operator Three for the sharing of masts.

The company is thought to have spare capacity to offer a limited service without the need to purchase new spectrum. As there aren’t many 4G handsets currently available in the UK the service will at first be restricted to 4G via a dongle.

Using 4G will see connections with around 8 to 20 megabits per second, which is faster than the average broadband connection speed found in many homes. Meanwhile 3G connections in the country are slower with speeds averaging around 1.4Mbps.

The service will initially be on trial from April in Bristol but could go national if Ofcom gives permission for the move by April or May. The company has also announced it now has a record amount of customers tied to a contract. An article on the BBC is reporting that during the quarter to December 31st it saw 313,000 new customers signing up.

This was put down to consumers upgrading to smartphones coupled with data packages, which were mainly on monthly contracts. Everything Everywhere’s plan may be hit with some opposition from rival operators though, as it could gain an early advantage being able to offer a 4G service.