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4G in the UK

Apple recently made a blunder with the release of the new iPad. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have taken a keen interest in the misinformation provided by Apple on their UK website after receiving an number of complaints about the 4G (fourth generation mobile communications technology) capabilities of the new iPad. When asked by the ASA to remove the misleading information, Apple simply added a footnote stating that 4G data coverage is only available in USA and Canada


On their UK website Apple claim that the iPad is available as Wi-Fi only or as Wi-Fi and 4G. Such technology is capable of delivering data to mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops at a rate of GBits/second (one thousand million bits of data every second) for low-mobility users i.e. pedestrians or stationary users and 100 Mbits/second for users in cars or trains. The ability to communicate at these speeds borders on the pre-cognitive level i.e. it seems to almost load before the user confirms that as their action.


Image courtesy of


Very exciting, but why aren’t we seeing the benefits of 4G in the UK?

Reports claim that the iPad’s hardware is configured to use different frequencies in the US and Canada than in Europe. Potentially, this means that European visitors to North America will not have roaming access for their iPad. The government have been asked by the 4G Britain campaign to “Do whatever is necessary to  move forward” with the deployment of 4G technologies. But other articles suggest that the ‘hold-up’ does not stop at the government, but instead with the mobile network carriers (Vodafone, O2 and Everything Everywhere (the merge of T-Mobile and Orange). The regulating body Ofcom are delaying the auction process, where carriers can buy portions of the frequency bands, until the end of the year due to threats of legal proceedings by rival operators.

Everything Everywhere have since launched the first trial of 4G technology on the 1800 MHz spectrum, giving fifty people in the Lake District access to ultra-fast connections. EE hope to use this frequency in the UK later this year to make 4G a “reality for the whole nation as soon as possible”.


Where do we go from here?

The implementation of 4G research could lead to developments in ubiquitous computing which allows users to connect to networks via different methods like Wi-Fi, 4G and older  generations and wireless personal access networks (WPAN).

4G also supports IPv6 protocols which, among other things, makes the requirement of sharing IP addresses in large networks virtually obsolete. Reduced costs of older generations of this technology could potentially lead to establishing networks in more remote parts of the world, connecting everyone, everywhere.

May 3rd, 2012 by | Leave a comment

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