It’s hard to move without being bombarded with adverts promoting Britain’s 4G phone networks. But is this new service all it’s cracked up to be? Our survey suggests that EE customers are convinced…
It’s hardly surprising that Kevin Bacon’s constantly on the TV, preaching the seemingly endless benefits that 4G has to offer. After all, EE and the other mobile providers have spent billions developing their networks and so are desperate to claw back their investment by persuading us to sign up for pricey deals.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom estimates that 4G download speeds are around five to seven times those available through the 3G networks and says it should give you a browsing experience comparable to your home broadband service. With 4G, your phone can open web pages almost instantaneously, download apps and songs in seconds, and stream videos without any annoying buffering.
Prices and coverage
This all sounds appealing, but it’s expensive. Prices have come down since it first launched, but cheapest Sim-only deals still start at £21 per month and if you want a package with a free phone, you’ll have to spend at least £26 a month.
4G coverage is also pretty patchy. EE has been offering it since autumn 2012 and its network covers 117 towns and cities across the UK, but O2 and Vodafone’s networks are still only available in a handful of major cities. Tony Malone isn’t holding out hope:
@WhichConvo Until E Anglia gets good 3G, forget 4G. I’m in so called Silicone Fen & signal here is dire &coast is worse, so wait & sea
— Tony Malone (@TolerantBrother) October 14, 2013
EE’s 4G rated by its customers
Despite that, 4G is proving popular. EE now has more than one million customers using the faster data service, and Vodafone has attracted 100,000 in the seven weeks since it launched.
And a year after it first arrived, EE customers seem convinced. In a special Which? survey we asked 300 of them what they thought. The results were overwhelmingly positive.
68% told us they were satisfied and 63% would recommend it to a friend. In contrast, just 12% said that they wouldn’t recommend switching to a 4G deal. That’s a pretty resounding recommendation, despite the premium price. Rowell told us on Twitter that’s he’s impressed:
— Rowell Heria (@rowellheria) October 14, 2013
Should you sign up?
Deciding whether you should take out a 4G deal will depend on how you use your phone (and whether it’s actually available in your area). If you only use the internet occasionally, perhaps just checking Facebook or your emails, then you won’t really see the benefits.
The prices may have come down, and some deals are similarly priced to their 3G equivalents, but it’s hard to justify spending over £20 per month if you don’t use your phone very often.
However, if you regularly stream or download content, then you’ll really benefit from the faster speeds. And independent testing confirms that it really is faster – EE’s average 4G speed in London was an impressive 29.6Mbps when Rootmetrics investigated it in September this year.
If you’re a 4G user then tell us what you think in the comments below. And if you’re not convinced by all it has to offer, tell us why.