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4G finally live in UK but will people upgrade?
Tuesday 30 October 2012 13:03:52 by Andrew Ferguson

The teasing is finally over, if you are keen you can go into an EE store today and walk out with a 4G enabled handset. We have finished a quick poll that we started just after EE announced its 4G tariffs for the UK, and with the service going live in a number of cities today we are publishing the results.

The poll attracted over 1250 respondents and in some way backs up what executives at EE have been saying about data usage, but also reveals that while there is often rushes to buy the latest and greatest hardware, people may not be rushing to sign up to EE.

thinkbroadband 4G Poll - Would you pay for premium service
Click image for larger version

It would appear that there is just 12% of people for whom the EE pricing is not a stumbling block, with another 12% playing the wait and see game, which probably means they will wait and see whether competition in 2012 brings down the price to match the 3G pricing.

thinkbroadband 4G Poll - Would you pay for premium service
Click image for larger version

The data usage profile very much matches what EE has said while justifying its new packages, that the majority of its users do not use much data, hence the relatively low levels in the packages, and that the majority do not need an unlimited mobile data package. What the marketing people may have missed is that many are likely to sign up to an unlimited service so that the one week a year when they use a lot of data they do not have to worry about extra costs.

4G offers very little extra compared to 3G, apart from the faster headline speeds and possibly lower latency, so one presumes those who are signing up will probably do more when out and about, and a 30 minute High Quality show on BBC iPlayer Mobile can be 300MB in size, so those looking to enjoy video on the move may have to accept the lower quality streams, i.e. no better picture than their old phone and 3G network.

The costs of mobile data are not just a UK problem, 3G tariffs in the UK appear amazingly cheap to most US consumers, particularly the availability of unlimited options, though given what EE has said recently these may soon that to vanish in the UK. Into this world market where 4G is seen as the luxury network option, means that Google has not actually added 4G LTE support to its flagship Nexus 4 mobile phone. Google has included HSPA+ which the major 3G networks in the UK support and where available in theory can provide a 42 Mbps connection.

While we often point out that the excess data costs on 3G and now 4G are somewhat exorbitant, meaning that if outside your data bundle it would be cheaper to goto the cinema that watch a HD film from the Google Play or iTunes store, it appears that among those taking part in our poll a massive 87% claim to never exceed their allowance in a year, and only 5% go over their limit 3 or more times in the course of a year. Part of this could be attributed to people on pay as you go where you often get extra data allowance by topping up on calls/text allowance, but with just 13% of those in the poll on a pay as you go tariff this is not the case.

The bubble that was the idea of 4G being a major component of a Digital Britain appears to be deflating, it has not totally burst, as the EE pricing may be high due to exclusivity and competition may lower it. If the mobile operators are keen to be seen as an alternative they need to ensure that data allowances roughly in line with fixed line services are available and at a price where people are not constantly rationing their usage.


Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Some said 4G would end up replacing fixed line broadband, for some I guess it could but not for the majority, not at these prices. Over the coming years people will consume more bandwidth it is inevitable. Far too pricey
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Also it would be interesting to know for those in the poll who have voted if they would use more bandwidth if they were not worried/watching their usage. What I mean is... are the current usage limits putting them off using more ?
Posted by SeanB84 over 4 years ago
Excellent article Andrew.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

I wouldn't be so quick to judge, EE is just exploiting their lead. Look at Vodafone, they have said people on contracts with an S3/Note2 can get a 70% discount if they switch.

With 3G already delivering up to 20Mbps and sub-40ms pings, 1000GB usage, the future is looking pretty good.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
Suggestion. It might be worth including "N/A" and "Don't know" options for future polls.

It helps to give a picture of those who don't use polled technologies. If they don't, why not.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
On the 70% discount, that may be referring to handset costs, as S3/Note 2 needs to be the LTE version to exploit 4G, most sold now are NOT the LTE version
Posted by SaticICE over 4 years ago
I responded to this pool and mentioned that I do not go over my 1Gb a month. However since this poll I have now changed providers to an unlimited one. In the first 10 days I have used over 1Gb!
Posted by undecidedadrian over 4 years ago
This is where polls can be misread, when I put down I never exceeded my data caps. But I have an unlimited data plan on 3 so perhaps there should have been another option for unlimited users.

It was funny today where the BBC reporter showing off 4G had to admit he had used up all his data allowence in one night playing with it and he had to be given more by EE to show the cameras.
Posted by acpsd775 over 4 years ago
dont know if anyone knows but three have bought some 1800 off EE to also launch 4G in the UK possibly ahead of the auction (they say early 2013). I went into the three store and talked to some one who actually seamed to know what they were talking about for a change and said three will continue to keep the one plan as unlimited and still allow tethering even on 4G if this be true it could indeed replace a fair few peoples fixed broadband :) (in fairness he one plan already has replaced some peoples even on 3G)
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
We covered the three spectrum in

Posted by acpsd775 over 4 years ago
@andrew ahh fair enough lol must of missed that, i read about it some were else though and the lady in the shop stated early 2013 (as with any phone shop could be speculation but she did seam to know what she was talking about unlike most phone sales people who just read the label on the stand haha)

TBH though three speeds in some areas can compare to what EE will be offering on 4G anyway when i had my Samsung galaxy S2 i used to get about 10-12meg so with DC-HSPA good chance of getting past 18meg :)
Posted by Dixinormous over 4 years ago
I would've paid a pretty sizeable premium for the right deal but they've simply applied the premium for obsolete deals.

No-one is going to take 4G for unlimited calls and texts. They know data is where the revenue has to be and have priced accordingly. I'd rather take 3G.
Posted by ahockings over 4 years ago
No one seems to be mentioning that another advantage of LTE on EE is it's over 1800Mhz. This means better coverage particularly indoor coverage than 3G.
It should be similar to 2G most of the time.
Posted by veletron over 4 years ago
What EE fails to realise is that if you give users better speed, they will do more with their connection. I am sure that those who moved to fibre from ADSL use more data on fibre than they did on ADSL?

Three is pushing its '3.95G' DC-HSPA+42 offering hard, but the trouble is very few devices do DC-HSPA. In the case of Samsung's S3, and Note2, DC-HSPA+42 is only available on the LTE version of the handsets - the 3G versions top out at HSPA+21.

I would sign a contract on Three tomorrow if they would sell me the LTE version of the Note2 - but they only offer 3G devices.

Posted by EastExpert over 4 years ago
Yes, limits are holding people back and force them to use WiFi.
But public WiFi connections only typically provide 0.5-2Mbps.
For me situation is even worse, as at home my Internet is 3Mbps only, so WiFi is slow there as well.
If 4G were available with a decent data plan, I could just continue to use 4G at home & at work, at 10x speed of WiFi.

... and all traffic that currently goes via WiFi would go via 4G. Now I use only about 300-400 MB for a month, but I would easily do 5GB and more.

Add video, and you can be over 10GB easily.
Instead of 300MB.
Posted by JCBHunt over 4 years ago
It's entirely academic to me. Where I live (middle of Somerset) I'd just be grateful for a decent 3G signal. In fact there are lots of places not many miles from here where you can't even get a decent 2G signal - and I'm thinking of sizeable villages, not the highlands of Scotland.
I'm worried that now the operators have got a new toy in their box, they won't bother about bringing their 2G and 3G coverage up to an acceptable level.
As it happens 3G is quite fast enough for what I need - if only I could get it everywhere!
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