back to article Brit 4G live TODAY: At last you can bust your data cap in 5 minutes

EE's 4G network goes live today, offering a lucky few in eleven cites the chance to exceed their data caps in less than five minutes, while competitors remind us that not all 4G networks are made equal. The network goes live this morning in eleven cities, with the company promising coverage to 98 per cent of the population by …


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  1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    "data cap"

    And then I stopped reading.

    It's like having a Cray supercomputer that you can only execute 500 instruction on a month. Sure, you'll execute them faster than anything else, but you'll still not use it for any purpose that it was actually *designed* for, and it will still cost you the earth.

    1. Ru

      Usage caps aren't intrinsically bad things, so long as they aren't stupidly small. I'd always choose a sensible cap over an Unlimited* service which throttles your connection to death or imposes secret fair-use rules. My home DSL has usually been with providers who provide 50-100GB with some form of PAYG or top-up or premium package above that limit; this seems quite reasonable and a good way to keep prices and traffic management down for the majority of customers.

      500MB though? What on earth are they thinking? If someone needs that little data, why on earth would they care about 4G?

      1. M Gale

        ...and I'd rather have a throttle than a nasty bill or getting completely cut off.

        Seriously, why are there data caps these days? What decade is this?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: Does 2G work yet?

      "promising "everyone can get [Vodafone] 4G when it launches next Spring" and offering a free replacement handset and 70 per cent of the remaining contract charges when customers upgrade to Vodafone 4G"

      What a bunch of lying bathtubs Vodafone are. They have had 10 years to build a 3G network, and it's a joke. I very much doubt everyone will have 4G when it launches or for another 10 years afterwards. Vodafone don't even have a 4G licence yet, and are not guaranteed to get one (unlikely not to, admittedly) so how they can make statements like that beggers belief.

      As I travel round the country my 3G Vodafone probably has 3G signal about 20% of the time. As previous poster comments, even a reliable 2G signal would be useful.

  3. Jack Project

    So the bloke in charge of EE reckons 500mb of data for £36 a month on LTE is the pricing "sweetspot" does he?

    I can't see my teeth falling out anytime soon due to eating too many sweet things.

  4. chr0m4t1c

    Failure of understanding

    Just called to see about switching from Orange to EE because I work in one of the cities covered.

    Very nice lady told me that I can't switch yet because my home address isn't in the coverage area, but they'll give me a shout when they roll it out there.

    I'm increasingly getting the opinion that they don't really know what "mobile" means.

    1. Jack Project

      Re: Failure of understanding

      More like they don't want a massive uptake so they can keep the speed up and use it as a marketing feature.

      1. Shagbag

        Re: Failure of understanding

        Agreed. Then they'll start marketing the 500MB as "massive" download allowance like O2 et. al. do with 3G.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Re: Failure of understanding

          Quick update.

          Called EE direct and was told that I can switch (yippee!).

          All I have to do is buy out my existing contract (at a 33% discount) and take out a new contract with them.

          So, not exactly what I had expected "switch" to mean. In fact, not much different than if I wanted to take my business elsewhere.

          Anyone know who's going to be online next? I might "switch" to them instead.

  5. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


    "owns the remains of Cable & Wireless"

    It isn't just about owning cable, it's how you use it. Unless they also plan to do a better job than Clueless (TM)

  6. HamsterNet

    Voda Speed

    Dear Vodaphone,

    I will believe your claims about 4G speed when I see a workable 3G signal in anything other than the centre of a major city. Even when I get "3G" speed comparisons between my work's Voda and the wife's Orange phone are always won by her superior coverage and speed EE network.

    Since they dont pay tax and don't invest in their network, just where is all Vodas profits going?

    1. Shagbag

      just where is all Vodas profits going?

      to its shareholders.

    2. nichomach

      Re: Voda Speed

      Now now, there's no call to be churlish - they don't pay *90%* of their tax.

  7. Tom 38 Silver badge

    98 per cent of the population

    This is a mobile service, telling us how many people would be covered if they are at home is irrelevant. Geographical coverage is the important thing, there is nothing more useless than a network where you only get coverage in towns.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 98 per cent of the population

      and when, apparently, indoor signal is much, MUCH weaker than outside, ouch. So get out there ye plebs, to see them speeds. Your cap won't last more than 10 min anyway! :D

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is crazy fast though.. just tried it.

  9. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Three won't be making reference to "4G" at all, when it launches in 1800MHz next year"

    Are they going to change their name to Four?

    1. M Gale
      Thumb Up

      I really don't care... long as they keep letting me download sometimes upwards of 30GB in a month without any nasty surprises. At £25 a month, I could buy another phone with a monthly rolling contract just for voice and still be paying less than EE customers.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I really don't care...

        Im happy with my circa 8mb on three (1mb up). That does me just fine for watching iplayer and sky TV stuff. 500mb is laughable, I burnt through more than that watching the GP at the weekend.

  10. tommy060289

    three should make more noise about its service

    I tried a speedtest in sheffield recently and got over 20 mb/s on 3G (which I believe is actually that 3.5G) and in my hometown about 12 mile from Sheffield which is a small-medium town I still managed >12 mb/s.

    Although I appreciate this is not 4G speeds its still bloody fast and far quicker than most people would need. Whats more, I get unlimited data on the one plan so I never need to worry about using up my allowance in 5 minutes and whats more the plan is paticularly good value!

    1. TonyHoyle

      Re: three should make more noise about its service

      Three has HSPA+ in a lot of places which caps at 21Mbps (although I believe a variant is capable of double that).

      Since the BBC were quoting vodafone as saying 'speeds of between 8 to 12Mbps' for 4G I think Three should definately be shouting their specs from the rooftops.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: three should make more noise about its service

        indeed, and it does actually work. ive posted many a speedtest on here from three. Most ive ever had is 11mb but normally 8 *inside*

  11. Badvok

    Data Caps

    Is there really any technical reason for Data Caps? Or are they simply artifices to generate revenue.

    (I can understand they might want to throttle the speed of people who are hogging all the bandwidth in a cell at a busy time, but surely that has nothing to do with total data transfer over a month.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Data Caps

      Here's what people do without data caps:

      Data usage Three UK bill excerpt

      1. Malcolm 1

        Re: Data Caps

        That's quite impressive - you'd need to be downloading at 1 Mb/s without interruption for the whole month!

      2. M Gale

        Re: Data Caps

        "Here's what people do without data caps:"

        So? 0s and 1s don't cost anything to make. So long as a couple of heavy users aren't swamping the cell - something which a few people including myself have already mentioned can be dealt with by careful use of throttling - who cares?

        Three should be congratulated for understanding what the word "unlimited" means.

      3. Pete the not so great

        Re: Data Caps

        hooooooooo ee, I take my hat off to you sir

  12. Nathan 13

    A reasonable priceplan

    £35pm for a new top of the line phone, unlimited minutes/texts and 10GB of data.

    SIM only £20pm for the same.

    I currently use about 5GB a months in total on my Galaxy S3, and dont stream, youtube or watch Iplayer etc

    500MB is such a ridiculously low limit that EE must have a complete fool in charge of their tariff setting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A reasonable priceplan

      "I currently use about 5GB a months in total on my Galaxy S3, and dont stream, youtube or watch Iplayer etc"

      WTF? I never exceed 500MB.

      1. M Gale

        Re: A reasonable priceplan

        You sure you own a smartphone? I'll give you a clue: Some ancient Nokia or Alcatel with a two-line text display is not a smartphone. If you even think about using the features of a smartphone you can easily exceed 500MB/month.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A reasonable priceplan

      "Must have a complete fool [for a customer]"


    3. Stu

      Re: A reasonable priceplan

      Indeed. If we all think back, 4G was meant to be the 'fix' that mobile operators were hoping for to be able to support many more simultaneous users. By setting a 500MB limit, they're admitting that it's a lie.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: A reasonable priceplan

        500mb is ridiculous. Stream an hour of internet radio a day and that is gone. Never mind watch any clips on BBC or iplayer. Fancy looking at some google maps? Download some apps? Sure you could use wifi but what is the point looking for hotspots, most hotspots are SLOWER than three anyway.

      2. Chris Miller

        Re: A reasonable priceplan

        It depends how you use it, of course. Like Obviously!, I've a 500MB plan for my S3, which I never exceed. But I limit data-hungry apps like Dropbox and G+ to Wifi only and I don't spend hours a day driving around using Navigator. If I did, I'd need a bigger plan.

        But 500MB for 4G does sound ludicrously small. If (like me) you can get by on 500MB a month, what benefits would 4G bring? There was some marketing droid (it may have been Steve Bong!, I'm not sure) on Today at 08:44 (i.e. 2:44 into the iPlayer stream) droning on about how it will revolutionise everything everywhere, particularly in the countryside where broadband isn't too hot.

        Now I live in a not-untypical village that has ~1,000 dwellings. Anyone want to work out how many 4G masts would be needed and what sort of backhaul they would require to deliver a 50Mb Internet service for everyone? Put it this way, I'm not counting on it happening any time soon. A usable 1Mb 3G service would be quite nice, though.

        1. Steve Todd

          The magic words are

          Contention Ratio. You don't think your ADSL provider has 1 MBit of Internet capacity for every MBit of line speed you have do you. If you're really lucky they'll have 1/20th of that, more likely 1/40th.

          Chances are your village would be served by one mast and 1GBit of back haul (which, apparently, is standard for an LTE mast).

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: The magic words are

            Steve, I take your point about contention, though I'm not sure I'd be happy with a 50:1 contention ratio (I know some fixed-line providers operate on that basis). But I don't think you can support 1,000 active connections on a single mast. Since we don't even have 3G at the moment (and we're less than 25 miles from London), I still won't hold my breath for 4G.

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: The magic words are

              You seem to be thinking of LTE as a replacement for fixed line internet. A fixed connection is always going to be the better, cheaper solution. For what it's targeted at, data access when out of the home, one mast should be fine.

              1. Chris Miller

                Re: The magic words are

                I think we're in agreement Steve. The trouble is that (some of) the promoters of 4G are touting it as exactly that - a replacement for fixed line, for small villages that will never be able to justify cable or fibre to each house. Listen to the clip I linked to for an example.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4G is great, everyone, up on board, quickly!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More cap, less data

    What were they on? If this is the pricing "sweet spot", I'd hate to see what the "Sour as a daily fail reader sucking on a bag of lemons while reading latest news on Jimmy Saville" spot looks like. If the plans were so carefully and extensively researched, how is it that I've yet to see a single positive comment or story on the generous data allowances, and no one seems to have bought into the "if we chuck in unlimited voice + texts, they won't notice the humorous data caps. If the initial caps are bad, the run on prices for going through your allowance are just taking the piss - four quid for 50 meg for as a starting point is just silly.

    Perhaps more surprisingly, no EE spokesweasel has managed to hint at a USP beyond faster facebook access, hi-def video and, for the business crowd, "large presentations" downloaded at the speed of rocket propelled sheep in a vacuum.

    Like 3G, only more hot air, less optimism, fewer ringtones and a good deal less reason to eviscerate the bank balance.

    1. M Gale

      Re: More cap, less data

      "Sour as a daily fail reader sucking on a bag of lemons while reading latest news on Jimmy Saville"

      You should write for the Reg.

      Or do you already, Mr AC?

  15. Stu

    Yet again

    40Mbps, nice, won't stay like that for long though.

    Seems to me if everybody moves over to 4G then 3G might actually be quite useable for the few left on it - kind of like how sometimes GPRS can be faster than 3G when there are tons of people on 3G.

  16. Sooty

    I'd much rather

    they got 100% coverage, fully unlimited, practically free, data at 0.5 or even 0.25meg. Then once this is in place they could let people who need it/want to pay extra for it get higher speeds

    The speed limiting technology is already in place, as my bundle drops me to a couple of k if I hit my cap rather than charge me extra of cut off, although it drops too low to be usable for much.

    Unfortunately, as most people don't need more than this when mobile, the revenue from it would likely drop off, so I can;t see it ever happening.

  17. JB

    4G Data caps

    I'm on AT&T 4G LTE in the States and the data cap is a paltry 300Mb a month, and that's up from 200Mb on 3G! And that comes with all of 200 texts and 450 voice minutes, all for the equivalent of about 55 quid a month! I really think you have a better deal in the UK, but not much better!

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: 4G Data caps

      In the UK £56 buys you 8GB of LTE data and unlimited voice minutes and texts. What was it you were saying?

  18. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Actually the discussion is missing the point

    Of course it's expensive, but that's not the cool point about LTE.

    What's cool about LTE is how it deals with practical restrictions.

    For example you can use LTE on non-contiguous parts of the spectrum. Or you can use special low-bandwidth mobile stations.

  19. James 100

    3G first?

    Meanwhile, on O2, I have a 3G "signal" for about half my commute each day - a bit of a gap in the middle, plus lots of EDGE and GPRS. No doubt O2 will be busy throwing time and money at putting 4G somewhere that already has 3G to make a tiny difference for a few people, instead of plugging the coverage gaps or getting 3G working reliably.

    Now, if only that signal actually meant packets could travel between my handset and the Net at large, rather than being eaten by a grue...

    1. Steve Todd

      Re: 3G first?

      Because they can use LTE on the 800Mhz band they can get the same or better coverage as 2G with the same number of masts. Does getting a 4G signal instead of GPRS/EDGE appeal to you?

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