What is 4G?


If you’ve bought a phone in the last 10 years, then 4G is how your phone reaches to the internet when it’s not connected to wi-fi. It’s called 4G because it is the fourth generation of this technology, although is barely recognisable when compared to the 2G of the ’90s – which only allowed for digital phone calls and text messages.

In 2003, 3G made it possible to browse the web on your phone – but it wasn’t until 4G arrived with its fantastic speed upgrade that mobile browsing became the quick and responsive experience we have today.

How fast is 4G?

4G technology is very impressive, especially when you consider 4G speed in the laboratory, but like all tech it has its limitations. In the lab 4G-LTE has a theoretical maximum download speed of 150 Megabytes per seconds (Mbps), however, this is not something that is ever seen in the wild.

Typically, 4G-LTE can give download speeds of around 20 Mbps, an order of magnitude smaller than the theoretical maximum. This is due to the challenges of real-world situations such as interference, distance, materials that block the signal, and many other problems.

4g speed

4G coverage

4G coverage in the UK has been getting better and better every year and we’re very proud that our carrier network has one of the best coverage’s.

4G coverage is only going to spread further as time goes on and we can expect it to reach even very remote areas within the next few years. Browse our coverage checker to see whether we’re available in your area.

How does 4G work?

One of the biggest upgrades on moving from 3G to 4G is the way 4G uses the frequencies to send signals. 4G uses a far more efficient tech called orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) that encodes information and ‘chops’ it up, sending it in pieces across multiple different frequencies.

As the signals are designed to not interfere with each other this vastly speeds up the data transmission when compared to the older tech.

4g coverage

What is 5G?

5G is the next big upgrade that we’re expecting to see roll out across the UK in the next few years. Just as going from 3G to 4G made internet speeds 10 times faster we’re expecting another massive boost with this tech with speeds of around 1 Gigabyte per second.

The UK is already seeing investment in this tech and we can’t wait for 2020 when it should be widely available.