Look out for a 4G Tuesday

 
Woman using smartphone

It's the biggest week of the year in the mobile phone world, with Apple launching its new iPhone in California on Wednesday. But for some industry watchers - at least in Britain - an event the day before in London looks even more important because at the Science Museum on Tuesday we will begin to see the shape of 4G Britain.

Everything Everywhere (EE) - that's T-Mobile and Orange to normal people who haven't spent millions on an outlandish new brand - has summoned journalists to the museum in an invitation which gives little away. "Please join us for exciting information on our new brand and the latest innovation in network technology," the company says.

The latest innovation is obviously 4G. After all, 11 September is the day from which Ofcom has allowed EE to use some of its existing spectrum for a fourth generation network, a move which has infuriated rival operators.

But another new brand? Perhaps it will be Something, Somewhere, because it isn't clear at this stage exactly what kind of 4G service will be provided to customers and in which parts of the country.

Still, I'm now hearing rumours that the event will provide news that could really shake up the mobile landscape. We had thought that EE's 4G might not be up and running until the end of the year, and then only for people using broadband dongles.

But a source tells me that the company will announce deals that will see four or five devices available very soon to consumers wanting to go 4G. On Saturday the Financial Times reported that Nokia was in talks with Everything Everywhere to make the network the exclusive launch partner for the new Lumia phones it launched in New York last week. I understand that the two Nokia phones will be among those announced for the network's 4G service on Tuesday.

Nokia was once the mobile phone leader but suffers now from seeming old-fashioned

If that is indeed the case, then it will be good for both partners. Nokia, which made little or no mention of 4G and said nothing about network deals at its New York event last week, was obviously keeping its powder dry. Now it could have a great launchpad for the Lumia 920 and 820, combining with Everything Everywhere to advertise them as the UK's first 4G phones.

The 920, which already looked a very attractive product in the brief moments I had my hands on it last week, will have something to make it stand out from the crowd - in the UK at least. For Everything Everywhere, whose 4G network may now have a year's start on its rivals, there is the opportunity to get people experiencing faster speeds and new services with a manufacturer which will be very keen to cooperate.

But there are a couple of shadows looming over the Everything Everywhere event. The fact that it is being held the day before Apple's launch suggests either that the network does not have a deal to sell the new iPhone, or that the device will not be compatible with its particular brand of 4G. One imagines that EE's executives were desperate to offer Apple just about any deal, in order to be the only operator offering a 4G iPhone in the UK, but it now seems unlikely that will happen. Of course, if it does, then Nokia's phone will look much less attractive.

The other shadow is the one that has darkened the outlook for 4G in this country for years, the threat of legal action. Ever since Ofcom announced its ruling allowing Everything Everywhere to go ahead with its early 4G plan, Vodafone and O2 have been muttering darkly about doing something to stop it.

Both know that any legal move which stopped consumers getting a service already available in many parts of the world would make them look bad. But if the service unveiled on Tuesday looks like a real threat to their profits and market share, they may decide that they cannot afford not to unleash their lawyers.

A fascinating week ahead then in the chess game which is the UK's mobile phone market - we will try to keep you abreast of all the latest moves.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 17.

    "15.MuckleJoannie

    Meanwhile in rural Scotland we are still waiting for 3g to be available."

    Meanwhile sitting in Sloane Square, Chelsea - can't get any type of service at all! (Phone forced to divert can't receive or make calls)

    Mobile phones are oversold technology. You media types (Rory that means you!) are taken in time and time again!

    Still can't get BT Infinity here either!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    @ 11 - Pretty sure the original Droid sold more in it's initial week than the first iPhone, and recently the Samsung Galaxy SII outsold its iPhone counterpart.

    @ 10 - you can but latency is much higher on a wireless network compared to a landline, so the internet may well "feel" slower. You'd also suffer from lag in games and video calls online.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 15.

    Meanwhile in rural Scotland we are still waiting for 3g to be available.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    Thanks Miss Ingoff.

    Point taken about existing situation with ADSL. Usually about 2M connection with little (say about 4 losses of an hour or more per year) downtime here.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 13.

    10 jonbanjo

    Yes, you can currently get a 3G router that you can plug your wired LAN into. Presumably 4G routers will be similarly available once there's something for them to talk to. As to whether they're more or less reliable than a landline, it depends on how good/bad your current connection is! Many 3G routers are used as an automatic failover backup to a landline anyway.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 12.

    Yawn

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 11.

    6. ioioos
    "why does the iphone (with less tham 20% of the market) seem to feature in every single article?"

    Latest figures for market share (Sept 5 2012):

    Android 52.2%
    iOS (iPhone) 33.4%
    Blackberry 9.5%
    Microsoft 3.6%
    Symbian 0.8%

    Add to that the iPhone is the world's best-selling brand of smartphone for the last 5 years. That's why. Criticise all you want, but get some facts first.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 10.

    "If you can get 10mb and Phone calls through your mobile phone and a mifi box, why would you maintain a land line?"

    Sounds an interesting possibility if we wanted a faster connection at some point. A couple of questions:

    Can a mifi work with a wired network?
    It it likely to be as reliable as ASDL?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 9.

    The coverage and building penetration of 4G will depend on the frequency used and the power of the transmitter, along with the sensitivity of the handset. If E-E use their 1800 MHz allocation for 4G then it'll go as far across the countryside and into buildings as current Orange and T-mobile 1800 MHz GSM signals.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 8.

    5 MyVoiceinYrHead

    If people (real users, not just journalists being shown a demonstration) can genuinely get 10mb in outlying areas at a reasonable price, then yes, they could get rid of the landline with impunity. However, I dare say BT aren't all that concerned, as I doubt the customers in those notspots generate much profit for them anyway.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    I don't understand what does this artice has to do with Apple announcement. Yes im excited about the iPhone 5 but Why advertise apple product???

    Regarding 4G lunch I can't wait!! Bring it on

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    I welcome the fact that the BBC has given coverage of the latest Samsung, Nokia and Amazon products, but why does the iphone (with less tham 20% of the market) seem to feature in every single article?

    How does the launch of one new handset make this week the most improtant of the year?

    Maybe the corporation that named its product the "iplayer" needs to explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    If I was BT I'd be considering legal action more than Vodafone/02.

    The Broadband dead spots in the UK will be filled faster by 4G than by Fibre cable. If you can get 10mb and Phone calls through your mobile phone and a mifi box, why would you maintain a land line?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 4.

    3 Mish

    From what I understand of the technology, I'd guess 4G coverage will be about on a par with 2G in due course. Minimum coverage requirements are supposed to be a condition of the new spectrum licences but, in practice, my gut instinct is that it'll take a while for good coverage to extend beyond the conurbations.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 3.

    I'm still struggling to get decent 3G coverage... Not sure how the 4G network will work, but could anyone answer if it would be more UK coverage then 3G?

    With regards to the Iphone5, I am looking forward to it's launch. I wasn't at first but with all the hype surrounding the event I'm looking forward to seeing what it would look like... I may switch from my N8.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 2.

    Does your Technology Correspondent do anything other than Sub Edit Press Releases?

    Whist enjoying the free drink and food perhaps he can ask some questions that show that EE plans are seriously flawed? Whilst they have been a poster boy for Ofcom's plans to force a fudge on LTE deployment in the UK what will happen when rivals resort to litigation to hold up deployment?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1.

    "It's the biggest week of the year in the mobile phone world [for Apple fanboys like you], with Apple launching its new iPhone in California on Wednesday."

    That covers what, 15% of smartphone users? The rest of us don't care. Another article from Rory where Apple advertising slips in for free where it has nothing to do with the subject matter.

    However bring on 4G!

 

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