How to get 4G internet on your iPhone 5 with Everything Everywhere (EE): your 4G questions answered.
One of the disappointments about the third-gen iPad launch from a British perspective was 4G: a heavily hyped fast-internet facility that was no use to UK buyers, since the infrastructure isn't in place. (This was such a disappointment, in fact, that Apple was obliged to stop advertising its cellular-equipped iPad 3 model as '4G' entirely.)
The iPhone 5 is also equipped with the facility to use 4G internet (in fact a technically different facility, as is explained below), but this time things are looking up for UK buyers, since Everything Everywhere is offering a 4G service in this country.
Here's how to get 4G internet connectivity with your iPhone 5, and answers to (hopefully) all your questions about 4G and the iPhone 5.
First of all, what's 4G?
It's, er, the one after 3G. It's the fourth-generation mobile internet network, which basically allows you to get faster web access on your smartphone than you're used to at the moment. And it's just been switched on, as part of the new EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) service.
EE uses 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology which has a theoretical speed of 100Mbps (megabits per second). However, you should expect a typical average speed of between 8Mbps and 12Mbps. EE said the typical maximum speed and peak speed are 40Mbps and 64Mbps respectively.
That sounds great! I'd love faster internet access on my iPhone. Where do I sign?
Hold your horses. The 4G network has only been switched on for testing purposes, and isn’t available for the general public to use yet. EE hasn't given a specific date for its availability, telling us that it will be fully launching in "a few weeks". We'll let you know when we've got a concrete launch date for EE 4G.
Okay, I can wait. Any word on pricing?
Not yet. EE says: "We'll be launching details on propositions and pricing in the coming weeks."
I'm an Orange customer - can I get EE through them?
Orange are connected to the EE service, but it's not as simple as all that. EE is a new brand which will operate alongside Orange and T-Mobile - they will remain as brands and retailers in their own right, but there will be some changes. (Customers are advised to register at www.ee.co.uk for more information.)
They will all use the EE network and therefore smartphones will display 'EE' instead of 'Orange' or 'T-Mobile' by Christmas. All existing Orange and T-Mobile stores will also be rebranded to EE and will serve customers of all three brands.
You can remain as an Orange or T-Mobile customer as per usual but you won't be able to use 4G. EE has said it will make it 'easy and straightforward' to move to EE to take advantage of the 4G network.
Will any other providers offer 4G?
Probably, but not for a while yet and potentially with a new version of the iPhone 5. See below for more technical details of the bands and spectrum issues involved, and here for some technical issues with the radio that led us (wrongly) to expect a non-4G iPhone 5 in this country.
Suppose I decide not to buy an iPhone 5…
That sounds very foolish. Have you read our iPhone 5 review?
Well yes I see what you mean. But would I be able to get 4G on my iPhone 4S?
Unfortunately not. Existing smartphones and tablets with mobile internet capabilities use 3G technology and therefore won't be compatible with EE's 4G network.
What about my iPad? It's a third generation model, the latest thing.
Again, sadly not. EE uses the 1800MHz spectrum for its 4G while the latest iPad, or iPad 3, uses 700MHz and 2100MHz so won’t be compatible. We've included some detail on spectrums and bands at the foot of this article.
I'll, er, read that later. My mum lives in the countryside. Will she be able to get 4G?
Probably not for a while. The testing I mentioned before is confined to 4 cities (London, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff) and the initial rollout will see a total of 16 cities 4G-equipped by Christmas.
Here's the list: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Southampton.
Beyond this EE said it will reach 70 percent of the UK by the end of 2013 and 98 percent by the end of 2014.
Here's EE's official word on location:
"The EE 4G network will continue to be rolled out across the country reaching more cities and rural areas throughout 2013 and beyond, as part of the company’s £1.5bn network infrastructure investment. We plan for 4G LTE to reach 98 percent of the UK by the end of 2014.
"We will also be introducing a coverage checker on the EE website so you can follow the rollout."
I'd better break the news to mum.
iPhone 5 and 4G: the technical details UK customers should consider
The iPhone 5 will come in three versions, equipped to use different sets of frequencies: two phones for the GSM family of technologies and one for CDMA, which also includes GSM bands for roaming.
On top of those frequencies, each model includes selected bands for the faster 4G LTE technology, a key selling point of the iPhone 5. However, the new lineup leaves out two bands – 800MHz and 2.6GHz – that will be critical to LTE service in Europe, according to Tolaga Research analyst Phil Marshall.
Indeed, 800MHz and 2.6GHz are the two spectrum bands that UK operators will be bidding for in Ofcom's forthcoming 4G auction, scheduled for the end of this year.
"If you were to build a European device, it would have 800MHz and 2.6GHz in it," Marshall said. Carriers in Germany, Sweden, Italy and other European countries already have or are expected to deploy LTE in one or both of these bands.
Apple does include the 1800MHz band for LTE in two of the iPhone 5 models, which could provide for LTE use in some parts of Europe, Marshall said. This set of frequencies, also called Band 3, is used by about 25 percent of LTE operators worldwide, according to Tolaga.
This is one of the LTE bands that wasn't included in the iPad 3 launched earlier this year, a shortcoming that led to legal action in Australia over Apple advertising the tablet as supporting "4G." The company dropped that claim from its advertising in Australia after the country's competition agency took Apple to court.
Earlier this week the UK's largest operator Everything Everywhere (EE) began live testing its 4G network, which will be delivered using spectrum in the 1800MHz band. EE is currently the only UK operator with enough 1800MHz spectrum to launch a 4G network in this band.
Last month, EE was forced to sell 2x15MHz of its 1800MHz spectrum to the UK’s smallest operator Three, as part of the terms of the merger of T-Mobile and Orange in 2010. However, Three has not yet announced any plans to launch a 4G network in this band.