4G isn't just for mobiles. 4G broadband is powered by a didicated network that gives you fast network without the need for any wires. High speed mobile internet access was made possible for the first time following the introduction of 3G mobile broadband. But as handheld devices evolved so did the demand for better connection speeds, the result was 4G broadband and in this guide we explain what it can offer, how to check if you can receive it and advice on saving on the latest 4G offers.
Launched in 2012 4G is the next generation of mobile broadband, taking over from 3G. In some case 4G is capable of delivering mobile broadband speeds similar to the download speeds you can get at home from a broadband line connection.
There are three ways to do this:
> With a router from a wireless broadband provider, such as Relish.
> With a mobile broadband hotspot device, such as a dongle that you plug into your computer's USB port.
> By tethering from your smartphone. If you've got a relatively up-to-date phone with a 4G mobile plan, you can likely tether from it. This turns your phone into a wifi hotspot.
4G allows voice data, mobile internet and multimedia content to be accessed anytime, anywhere – depending on coverage – at faster speeds compared to 3G. Some mobile operators can offer speeds of up to 300MB. Although this will be the maximum possible speed, and the speed you get will depend on a variety of factors, from coverage in your area, to the time of day you go online, to the weather. Make sure you find out from a provider the speed you are likely to receive before you sign up.
EE (the merging of Orange and T-Mobile networks) were the first to launch a 4G service in 2012, almost a year before anyone else. However their rivals caught up and Three, O2, Virgin, Vodafone and even BT have been offering also an array of 4G packages to choose from.
The prices of these plans depend on a number of factors such as, contract length, the amount you pay each month, data allowance and download speeds. Using a comparison website and comparing deals like for like will allow you to see who is offering the deal you want at the best price. You can also see if the package you want comes with any extras or a free gift to really sweeten the deal.
As EE were the first to offer a 4G service it may not surprise you to find out they have the most areas covered. Other networks again had to play catch-up and now have a good coverage araea even outside of city centres . To combat a problem with missing coverage, most 4G devices automatically switch back to 3G and even 2G services when they can’t connect to 4G, although expect performance to slow.
All the major networks offering 4G have a coverage tracker on their website; this allows you to type in your postcode and see whether your area is covered.
As broadband has become vital nowadays and is used for streaming, watching TV, playing games and so on, the amount of needed data is increased. That's why major providers offer plans with unlimited data usage. You must check out what's on offer as there are different length plans from 18 months to 36 month contracts, if there is upfront fee, and is there usage gap. Monthly costs typically range from £25-£45 per month depending on which network provider you choose and the amount of data you require. Some plans on offer are with 50% discount for the first 6 or 9 months.
Be sure to double check the terms before signing up the contract.
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