back to article Everything Everywhere's 4G: Why I'm sitting this one out

According to phone network Everything Everywhere, super-fast mobile broadband 4G is "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam". Some members of the Her Majesty's finest press corps agree. "A customer buying a new mobile phone tomorrow would be hard pressed not to find a reason to join the …


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  1. TeeCee Gold badge

    "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

    Yes, I remember the improvement when planes went from steam to jet engines..............ah..............hang on........

    Ok then, what about when trains went from steam to.............oh..............not that one either.

    So it's the communications equivalent of something that didn't happen then?

    1. wibble001

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      That's exactly what I thought when I read that statement too. Have an upvote sir!

    2. squilookle

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      Upvote from me as well, sir.

      However, the thought occurs that if you did fit a train with a jet engine, it would probably come flying off the tracks at the first bend. Perhaps this is a suitable analogy for all the problems pointed out by the author.

    3. Andy Howarth

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      Sorry to be a pendant but there was one train that used a jet engine. The prototype of the Advanced Passenger Train was powered by a gas turbine. It was a feat of British engineering that tilted round corners 20+ years before the Penadildos entered service but it had enough teething problems that BR scrapped it and stuck with the HST instead.

      Not exactly the staggering mythical success that EE have in mind I think.

      They may of course be thinking warships in which steam has been replaced by gas turbines but again not exactly a commercial success.

      1. Shaun 1

        Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".


        Sorry to be a pedant, but I think you mean "pedant".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Jet powered locomotives

          A gas turbine is similar to a jet, but there are locomotives that use actual jet engines.

        2. Lallabalalla

          Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

          Shaun 1

          You fell for it..

      2. keithpeter

        Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

        Hydrofoil boats were quite popular as ferries for a while, and some are still in service. More expensive to run than your standard waddling diesel tub, so many phased out.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      > So it's the communications equivalent of something that didn't happen then?

      There were such things as steam planes and jet locomotives.

      The comparison is still isn't goof though; both of these technologies were superseded by cheaper, better and more reliable versions....

    5. Steve Evans

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      Don't forget that a long haul train journey in the days of steam was generally faster than it is today!

    6. Peter 48

      Re: "the communications equivalent of the change the jet engine made over steam".

      how about this one:

  2. Piro

    Jumping the gun

    Make sure HSDPA coverage is 100% and I'll be impressed. I'm fine with that speed as it is, I don't need faux-4G draining my battery and useful only in a city where I have good HSDPA signal anyway..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jumping the gun

      Didn't you get the memo? The ITU gave in. LTE is considered 4G now.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

    I've been commuting back and forth between along the waterloo - wimbledon line for the past 6 years. There's many points along the journey where I can't get internet access. I'm on T-Mobile. It'd be nice if they got @%$ing 3g working before screwing around with 4g.

    1. HMB

      Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

      Who is going to invest more in 3G now that 4G is in town?

      "It takes me 3 days to cross the Atlantic by boat, I hope they manage to do something to improve that before they start spending all that money on aeroplanes."

      It would be more sensible to hope that 4G gets better coverage than 3G got.

      Personally I stream Spotify over Three's 3G network while I'm driving along the motorways and I rarely get a blackout.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

        Lucky you,

        3G on Orange has been pants the previous two phones I've had on contract to use these useless flashy stuff. Have strong 3G signals and yet still feels like 56k.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          @Captain Scarlet

          It seems to be Orange's back-haul that's the problem.

          My personal phone is on Orange & my work phone is on O2, but as both handsets are unlocked I can test each network with each handset, so I've just done that (again).

          O2 gives ~120ms ping, ~4.5Mbps download and ~1Mbps upload with Speedtest on both handsets.

          Orange gives ~90ms ping, ~2.2Mbps download and ~0.3Mbps upload on both handsets.

          So, essentially, no significant difference due to handset, but the "biggest" network is by far the slowest. I've tried these test elsewhere in the country (I travel a lot) and the results are almost in the same vein; Orange is usually half the bandwidth of O2, but has lower latency. I've never had any trouble with connectivity or maintaining a connection, so I'm leaning towards the front end kit being good enough and there being insufficient bandwidth at the back end, but I have no evidence to support that theory.

    2. Jody

      Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

      Completely agree. My network (Three) also has lots of dead patches on the main rail line into Waterloo and not just in rural stretches - well into the metropolis too. Surely they should have nailed down coverage on those main trunk routes carrying hundreds of thousands of people every day?

    3. Alex C

      Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

      I'm with you there and (while not taking the quite same train) I notice the same phenomenon - mostly between Barnes and Chiswick. I have to say it improved greatly when I moved away from Vodafone to Giffgaff but there are still patches of mobile blackspot there too.

    4. CCCP

      Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

      @AC 12:10

      That line sucks and it gets worse further out. I head towards Guildford and there's a patch of 3G at Woking, but mostly nothing the rest of the time. Zilch, nada. Not even 2G.

      This must be one of the most mobile device dense train lines in the country. You can't move for iPads and smart phones. It's the bleeding stockbroker belt ffs. Sort it out Vodafone.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

      I get the the same train (Waterloo and Wimbledon). O2 is exactly the same..

  4. Captain Underpants

    I agree with the sentiment of your argument overall, because by default I don't like paying to be a betatester early adopter. The argument's not limited to 4G, though, it's the starting point for any non-trivial tech change.

    Of course, if the next iPhone (or some other suitably shiny bauble) happens to introduce 4G support as it's defined around here, then you may well have a whole punch of people who love to splash cash to be early adopters. Will be interesting to see if EE have set up a deal with Apple along these lines.

    Personally, my reasoning for not going for it have more to do with wanting nowt to do with either t-mobile or Orange, both of whom have been sufficiently crap at customer service to make them unappealing regardless of amazing technical stuff on offer...

    1. HMB

      Crap Customer Service

      Isn't this standard in the UK?

      Sorry, I know it sounds very stereotypical to bitch about such a thing, but I've heard bad stories from every mobile provider.

      1. toadwarrior

        Re: Crap Customer Service

        I don't think any of them can claim to have great service but Orange has consistently been the worst by far for me. I've left the country supposedly with roaming on (got confirmation) only to land in the country with nothing. I call them and they're all like "you didn't enable it" and the second time it happened they obviously reenabled it while I was out of the country because as I landed in London I get another confirmation text.

        While trying to leave them, they fucked up the whole process leaving me have to join up again for a month and just generally anything I've asked for, they don't do and they won't confirm anything via email obviously to reduce the chances of being caught out.

        I despise them and I'm not happy tmobile merged with them. So far tmobile hasn't got worse but I'm not sure if I should stay or not. So my next phone I'll probably buy outright since I'm out of contract so I can leave asap if needed.

  5. bofh80
    Thumb Up

    part 2

    nice work.

    which phones work atm?

    when will tmobile / orange EE actually be selling 4g, still nothing on their website

    how will this affect three, who have boldy gone into the 'unlimited' but not 'tethered'(£5 add on) data arena.

    From literally £10 a month, (100 mins, some texts) you get unlimited internet. Which is good.

    note i'm on voda, have been for years, and am about to switch to three.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: part 2

      I did switch, was worth it, apart from the bad coverage in the countryside

    2. Test Man

      Re: part 2

      T-Mobile and Orange will not be selling 4G services. EE (Everything Everywhere's third subsidiary/brand) will.

      Go to for more info.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    goodbye home broadband

    If LTE from EE is available at a cost anything like on a par with the One Plan from Three then getting an account is a total no brainer for anyone who lives by themselves and uses the internet a lot. (like me). If it's competitive on cost and doesn't have a horrible bandwidth cap then it's bye bye ADSL for me (and hello shiny new phone) .

    This said if the situation in the USA is anything to go by I might be hoping against hope here. I saw that the LTE Kindle FIre is going to be available with a package providing 250 mb a month of data. I use my current Android phone as a wifi hotspot on Three and I can get through 3x that in a day.

    Put simply, if LTE is available without big bandwidth caps then I'll be standing outside my local EE shop begging them to take my money, if not I'm going to stick with 3.

  7. Bristol Dave

    Do you really really need that extra speed?

    With the ridiculously paltry data allowances that mobile networks currently offer?


  8. Sean Foreman

    don't forget data caps..

    until the networks drop the extortionate charges for data and caps there's absolutely no point in the phone that will simply chew up your allowance 10x quicker..

    1. D@v3

      Re: don't forget data caps..

      I have a bit of an issue with this argument of "will simply chew up your allowance 10x quicker.." surely, it's not going to start downloading data quicker than you can use it.

      Unless the argument is that with higher speeds, people will become reckless and go, "ooh, I now get 100mb downloads, so im going to stream myself some HD film of netflix, crap, i've hit my cap"

      If i found that my speeds suddenly doubled, it wouldn't mean I'm going to start using twice as much data, only that what i do use, will be served up in a timely manner, such as less waiting for emails to download, or web pages to open. I'll still be doing the same amount of consuming as I do now, just less slowly.

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        Re: don't forget data caps..

        TL;DR - As access speeds increase, data consumption increases.

        Actually - it does mean exactly that - it's a proven fact that as speeds increase - people consume more.

        Unless you are claiming that you use the internet in EXACTLY the same way on broadband as you did when you had dial-up... then your usage probably increased as the speeds increased.

        EG - you are more likely to download (legal) content like music or watch streaming video services - when they are quick enough that it doesn't buffer every 30 seconds. You are also far more likely to utilise cloud services when they operate at speeds fast enough that there is no distinction between the latency of accessing off device storage as opposed to on device storage.

        In short - new services are created as speeds increase, people use the new services because the speed at which they can access them has increased. BBC iPlayer is a prime example of this - people use it because the speed their internet runs at allows it - however people with poor broadband speeds - do not use it. I have set up broadband connections for many of my friends - and they always say the same thing - "I only want it to do emails and do home shopping, 10GB will be more than enough for me" then within a month - they discover Skype and BBC iPlayer, a 1 hour episode of Planet Earth uses an extraordinary amount of bandwidth. Even having Facebook open for an hour uses much more data than people actually realise.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: D@v3

        You forget, most streaming services detect your connection speed, and set the SD/HD content as required. Plus, who is going to stream HD video on a 2.5G connection? Who is with a 4G connection? Don't blame the customer for USING THE PRODUCT AS ADVERTISED!

  9. dotdavid

    Main Reason

    EE is a monopoly. When there are a couple of competing 4G suppliers not charging the early-adopter's tax, then I'll have a look at it.

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Re: Main Reason

      That'll be some time around 2020 if the pattern of 3G deployment & pricing is anything to go by.

  10. EvilGav 1

    It's even simpler than that.

    I live and work in central Edinburgh, yet I cannot guarantee a 3G signal everywhere I am in the city, in some places I cant even get the HSDPA (?) signal, so why jump to a new standard that's going to have even less coverage and contain more problems than what we currently (don't) have??

    I guess this is still a knock-on from the astronomical sums the mobile tel-cos paid for the 3G licences and haven't been able to recoup the money on.

  11. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


    This'll make steam powered aeroplanes obsolete, no question.

  12. NXM


    You've missed something.

    I'm in a rural 4G test area. Here, we get 2MHz broadband on a good day, and some people I know get nothing at all - even dial-up doesn't work very well. 4G offers us a fast connection over the air without all that faff with fibres and stuff, which we're never going to get out here anyway because we're miles from the exchange and there's no compulsion on the fixed line providers to put those fibres in.

    The situation is completely different to that in a city because a 4G provider, any 4G provider, is a much better prospect than nothing at all because we're not particularly going to use it as a mobile service, rather as a replacement for non-existant fixed line service.

    Another thing you've missed is that the likes of BT could have, if they wanted, put in fibre to everyone a long time ago rather than waiting for 4G licenses. But they choose not to invest that kind of money.

    1. Tim Walker

      It's not just rural areas

      I've had a bellyache on here before (indulge me), about the fact we live in a new estate on the edge of a supposedly high-tech town in southern England, a mile down the road from a fibred-up exchange, but we can barely get 2Mbps broadband because the cables to the houses are copper (or overcooked noodles, or wet string, or take your pick).

      Perhaps I should get onto BT and give them a (polite) earful about when they're going to get around to upgrading our street. Otherwise, if Virgin Media (or even one of the wireless telcos) provides >2Mbps connectivity to our street before BT "get their fingers out", I'd be looking at leaving Marcus Brigstocke's least-beloved telephone service provider...

  13. Stuart Elliott

    Cry more

    Wah wah wah, my city isn't getting 4G, therefore it's crap..

    Cry me a river ffs.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why were EE allowed to get a head start on 4G?

    It seems very dodgy that their competitors aren't allowed to compete yet.

    Anyway, as I only live in the 19th biggest UK city and have a 3G phone which is perfectly fit for purpose, it'll be a lonnnnnnng time before I use 4G.

    1. HMB

      Re: Why were EE allowed to get a head start on 4G?

      Because Ofcom kept trying to arrange auctions, then the mobile companies who weren't getting what they wanted kept threatening to take Ofcom to court. This caused Ofcom to keep running off and crying until finally the government sat up (after realising the UK was quickly becoming last in the race) and told Ofcom to stop being such a pussy and give EE the ok to use it's existing spectrrum.

      The network operators have no one to blame but themselves. I have no sympathy at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why were EE allowed to get a head start on 4G?

      Because EE got a licence variation on their existing 1800MHz spectrum - and as someone said the constant auction delays by all networks is to blame too. It's ridiculous that just about every other European country is already doing LTE or has well advanced plans, and we're still bickering.

      I especially like O2's stance.

      They got their own market-distorting licence variation, in the form of being allowed to do 3G on 900MHz (so all those £billion pound 3G licences are quite devalued).

      They then complain because someone got their own market-distorting licence variation that was better.

      Now, if you read elsewhere, O2 is trying to do all it can to push the auction forward. You can't make it up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why were EE (ILLEGALLY) allowed to get a head start on 4G?

        Firstly EE also got the same allowance to do 3G on their 1800MHz spectrum, so that blows away your argument about it being market distorting.

        Secondly when TMUK and OUK applied to become EE, the European Commission agreed with one proviso: That they sell 15MHz of 1800 Spectrum - to 3 as it now turns out - <<specifically to avoid consumers being ripped off by a monopoly>>. THAT is why the other operators cried foul.

        ""..... the OFT was concerned about the concentration of spectrum on the 1800MHz band that the parties will jointly hold after the creation of the JV. This could affect the future offering of services over the new, fourth generation (4G)........ the JV might result in just one mobile network operator offering this type of services in the UK, thereby resulting in a significant impediment to effective competition in mobile broadband and higher prices for consumers.


        In order to remove the possible concern as regards the spectrum holding of the JV following the proposed transaction in the UK market, France Télécom and Deutsche Telekom committed to divest, either by way of a private sale or in the OFCOM auction (see paragraph 115 above), 2x15 MHz of the JV’s 1800 MHz spectrum band (the "Divestment Spectrum"). ""

  15. Dave's Jubblies

    it's snowing in hell...

    It must be chilly there, cos I'm agreeing with Orlowski...

    I've wondered for a while now just WHY we need higher speeds on a PHONE than a decent 3g HSPDA connection can provide, heck, even a half decent one!

    I'd rather my phone could last a proper, full day of heavy use, with out worrying whether it'll get me home, than have it provide 15mbps downloads that'll save me 3/4 of a second ....

    1. Brian Morrison

      Re: it's snowing in hell...

      Well actually it's like the reason to try to move from WiFi to UltraWideBand, by increasing the speed by a factor of (at the time) 10, the power consumption would be about 1.5 times higher and so a given amount of data could be transferred using much less power per bit.

      The problem with phones is that the data needs to do something useful, and running the processor(s) at high speed and keeping the display lit up are the reasons that the batteries run out so soon, the radio parts are not using that much more when active it's just that our human need to keep looking at them makes the utilisation higher and you're into battery death spiral territory.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      Re: it's snowing in hell...

      I do agree with Orlowski too, but still somebody has to be first, and even if that was not true, somebody tend to be first. Also is this 4g all about cell phones or could it be something good for a laptop with a dongle. Not living in the UK, so just asking.

  16. Lusty Silver badge


    I thought 4g was initially just a protocol change and wasn't in fact going to deliver more speed until more bandwidth is available?

    Either way though, most of the slowness is latency and that will never be fixed. For most normal users there is minimal difference in the experience between 3g and GPRS unless they watch a video.

    1. HMB

      Re: Speed?

      Have you never tried loading a webpage on GPRS ever? You can't have, you simply can't have. It's almost not worth trying.

      The latency comment just shows how little you know about LTE, which has been designed from the ground up to give the lowest latency they could reasonably manage. Go to youtube and look up speedtests. Latency is on a par with fixed line.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Speed?

        I doubt it given the massive extra distances the signal has to travel. Home broadband doesn't do nearly as much mucking about. And yes, I've used GPRS quite a lot and it's exactly the same for normal web sites. Your problem is that you're mostly looking at YouTube which as I said actually needs more bandwidth.


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