Broadband in rural areas.

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4g explained

  • What is 4g broadband

    4G simply stands for fourth generation, and it’s called that because it’s the fourth generation of mobile technology, following on from 2G and 3G.

    4G is sometimes referred to as LTE (Long Term Evolution) and it’s similar in a lot of ways to 3G, as it allows you to use data to browse the net, play online games, download and stream, and more, but it does so at around 20Mb, which makes it a great alternative for your home or business broadband.

    Standard 4G, which is what all UK networks initially launched, offers average download speeds of around 20Mbps, making it faster than many standard broadband packages and working in 99% of rural areas.

    However, while averaging around 20Mbps, standard 4G is theoretically capable of far higher speeds, potentially topping out at around 150Mbps. In short, 4G provides you with a far smoother experience online.

    As an example, you could download a 2GB file (a 2hour HD movie) in 3 minutes and 20 seconds using standard 4G.

    There’s a similarly big difference with upload speeds – using standard 4G you can expect typical speeds of around 10Mbps and theoretical top-end upload speeds of around 50Mbps. And we’re only talking about standard 4G here – some networks now offer improved versions of the technology with even higher speeds.

    The main other advantage you get from 4G is reduced latency. This is the measure of how long the network takes to respond to a request and it’s measured in milliseconds.

  • It might therefore sound like a reduction wouldn’t make much difference, but for some things it really can. For example, if you’re playing a fast-paced online game then a low latency can be vitally important as you need to respond instantly to what’s happening. Latency using the UK’s 4G networks are averaging between 36ms (EE) and 48.3ms (Three).

    Another potential advantage of 4G is clearer voice calls, as 4G can carry more data. The caveat here is that not all networks allow you to call over 4G (usually referred to as either 4G Calling or VoLTE).

    Is all 4G the same? No. So far we’ve only really talked about ‘standard’ 4G, but some networks offer faster, better versions of it.

    EE is a prime example of this, as for a long time now it has delivered ‘double speed’ 4G to much of the UK. This uses the same technology as 4G, but just allocates twice as much spectrum, offering real-world download speeds that top out at 60Mbps.

    However, EE, Three and Vodafone have all gone even further than that in some areas, offering LTE Advanced (also known as LTE-A or 4G+). This in EE’s case delivers top real-world speeds of 90Mbps and a theoretical maximum of 300Mbps. Three’s and Vodafone’s speeds should be similar, though in tests from RootMetrics and the like they rarely quite match EE for 4G speeds.

    To understand how LTE-A works you first have to know how normal 4G works. For normal 4G, data is sent using a single antenna on a mobile mast to a single antenna on your phone or tablet. But for LTE-A multiple antennas are used at each end, so much more data can be sent at once. This is known as MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output).

    Can I get 4G? Almost certainly. At last count, every UK network offered at least 99% 4G population coverage across the UK.

    If you live somewhere rural you might want to use your network’s coverage checker to be sure, but the majority of people will now be able to get a 4G signal most of the time.

Call us on 01789 335535 or send an email to info@4gRural.co.uk