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The 4th Generation


With the introduction of iPhone 5, you must have heard of 4G by now. However if you’ve been locked away in your cupboard for the past few months you might be oblivious to the exciting new Fourth Generation mobile technology. In brief 4G technology will become the telecommunication standard and will replace the now outdated 3G service. In the past we have seen 1G bring us brick-like analogue phones, replaced by digital 2G and the currently used 3G which allows our phones to use data and makes them ‘smart’. We are excited as to what innovations the next ‘G’ has to offer.
It is said to deliver lightning fast download and upload speeds, having the ability to hit up to 30mbps, compared to 7mbps maximum that 3G is wheezing out. These improved speeds will allow both the teenager on the train to stream films straight to his mobile and the business executive in the coffee shop to download very chunky attachments instantly.
Currently, the 3G network simply cannot support this amount of data passing through it and thus increases the cost of data to an eye watering amount. This will be resolved however with 4G, as extra bandwidth will lower data costs, and could potentially allow new methods of communication, such as mobile VoIP that will allow consumers and businesses to make cheaper international calls.
The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller spoke earlier this month about the benefits that 4G will have on the economy; “We anticipate that 4G services will boost the UK’s economy by around £2-3 billion.”
Therefore, the quick delivery of 4G can be seen as fundamental to economic growth and for this reason the major mobile networks in the UK are fighting to get ahead and be the first to implement these technologies. But until now, the UK has been quite far behind the developed world in terms of 4G, the US has had 4G for a while now, but recently the predictions on availability are changing, and only this month have we been given some definite dates by the networks. Ofcom have stated that the timeline for 4G has been governed by the clearance of spectrum bands (the frequencies that 4G run over) and these will be going up for auction very soon, January in fact.
O2 and Vodafone for example wont be able to bid on the 4G frequencies until January 2013 but once bidding has taken place, availability will be rushed for public use. We will hopefully be seeing O2 implementing 4G by May 2013, six months earlier that originally proposed.
However, Orange and T-Mobile’s umbrella company, Everything Everywhere (EE) has had a head start on the 4G race, by re-using their original bandwidth frequencies, they already have the infrastructure in place and therefore don’t need to take part in the January bidding, so will consequently be the first to utilise the new generation capabilities. EE announced that their 4G services are launching on the 30th October this year.
Only time will tell whether the Fourth Generation lives up to the hype that has surrounded it.