Belfast one of 16 UK cities to get 4G mobile services in 2012

Image caption,
4G mobile technologies will benefit users in remote rural areas that do not have fast broadband access

Belfast is among a number of UK cities where 4G mobile services will be available before the end of the year.

Everything Everywhere, which is now known as EE, own T-mobile and Orange, and is launching 4G in 16 UK cities by December.

The company will continue the roll out in the new year, and aims to provide 4G to 98% of the UK by 2014.

The 4G technology will allow users to access superfast mobile internet on their phones and laptops.

The locations chosen will benefit from improved network access speeds, even indoors.

Andrew Bolster, runs Farset Labs in Belfast, which promotes creativity, technological innovation and entrepreneurship for local professionals, students and others.

He said the 4G is "faster with longer range and more availability and more options".

Where you live in Northern Ireland also has an impact, he said.

"You're relying on the carriers deciding that your area is important enough to have masts in," he said.

"I'm sure everyone has had the joy of going down the Londonderry rail line on Translink and suddenly discovering you're in the middle of nowhere with no connection."

So does that mean if you live in an area where it is difficult to get 3G at the moment, that you will be unable to access 4G?

"It is going to be difficult but Ofcom, the communications regulator, have set regional targets because they saw the mess that was made of the 3G roll-out during the past decade," he said.

"They've said that Northern Ireland has to have a 95% population roll-out by 2017 - that's hopefully going to mean that most people will get 4G and my personal hope is that if you don't get 4G, you'll finally get on to 3G.

"The main difference between 3G and 4G is the speed rather than any of the services that are available, so you'll hopefully not notice as much of a terrible drop-off."

Mr Bolster said it would take time for 4G to be widely available on all the different devices people use.

"I personally think that the first things that are going to be rolled out are USB dongles for your laptop and desktop PCs or for what are called mobile Wifi access points where you can have this little black box that sits in your car, picks up 4G internet and then shares wireless information with the rest of the occupants in your car.

"As with any of these things, the handset roll-out will take time and money, but the big thing is if we can get the infrastructure there, the companies will make the phones."

To listen to the full interview with Andrew Bolster, download the d NI Business News Podcast.

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