4G Speeds – A reality check

4G Speeds   A reality check

I’ve written about this before, but I think we need a revisit today. Last night we gave you the pricing and plans for the UK’s first 4G network – EE. It’s provoked quite a response and a lot of questions.


Some expected something different. Perhaps more data allowance per month, maybe an unlimited package, but after reading comments around the web I felt that there’s a bit of disparity between the reality and perception.

This morning I received an email telling me that “a 500MB monthly allowance on 4G is pathetic, I’ll burn through that in minutes at 50Mbps”. Well, that you may do, but I can tell you now, you won’t get getting that speed.

In trials 4G technology can deliver blistering speeds and yes, if you’re connected to a lightly-used mast then you could get some very brisk downloads. However, I feel I must point back to the small print which appears on all the EE 4G literature. It refers to their own claim that 4G speeds are “typically five times faster than 3G”…

(This claim is) .. based on 1.5Mbps UK average speed for 3G (Ofcom speed survey), and 8-12Mbps average speed for 4G (source: EE Data)

That’s your average speed. 8-12Mbps. So on a good day your 4G connection could be pulling 20Mbps – maybe even more, but on a bad day you might get a lot less.. less than 8Mbps perhaps.

Now wait, I should clarify this point. Yes, it’s going to be a lot better than your current mobile speeds. Using 4G to browse or RDP across a VPN on your laptop will be much smoother. Downloads will be quicker, videos will buffer less, but it’s dangerous to assume that you’ll be getting some sort of invisible ethernet cable plugged into your phone. There’s a lot of factors which come into play between you and the website you’re trying to get to.

Link – 4G – Backhaul is key

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