While 4G LTE networks tend to be the standard in the United States, Europe is still only making baby steps in replacing 3G with the next generation of download and upload speeds. Things are starting to get a move on in the UK however, where EE (formerly known as Everything Everywhere) is planning to launch 4G LTE in time for the holidays.
We’ve known that for a while, but if there was still someone who doubted the roll out of the new network will happen very soon, EE’s latest announcement should shatter all speculations. The first 4G LTE-enabled devices are set to go on sale today, although very many details about them are still kept under wraps.
Technically, the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One XL and Huawei Ascend P1 LTE won’t even be the first UK 4G handhelds to be sold by EE, with the iPhone 5 being available for a while. We don’t really care about Apple’s new phone though, so we’re just going to ignore it for now.
As for the Android trio, it seems that the devices will be made available via Orange and T-Mobile brick-and-mortar and online stores starting today, with the move from the carriers’ 3G network to EE’s 4G happening “later in the year”.
No pricing scheme has been revealed by EE at the moment, so we have no idea what the three phones cost, what kind of plans will they be available on, and whether or not users will be asked to pay extra when moving up from 3G to 4G in a couple of months or so.
It’s also unclear if buyers will have the option to forfeit their contractual obligations if they’ll be unsatisfied with the 4G speeds, although hopefully everything will go as planned with the new network’s launch and no one will dare to miss out on its high performance.
Talking about speeds, we should mention that Paul Sawers from The Next Web got a chance to test out all the existing 4G-enabled devices on EE’s unreleased network, which showed that there’s still a lot to work on before an official rollout can happen.
“For the most part”, 4G was significantly faster than 3G, although the variation in speeds should be a bit worrying. All four phones managed to reach impressive 40 Mbps download speeds and 13 Mbps upload speeds at certain points, but also not so impressive 3 Mbps download and 6 Mbps upload (albeit in only a couple of occasions).
Tom Bennett, Director of Network Services and Devices Development at EE, ensures that the variances are not to be taken very seriously right now, given that “Fundamentally it shouldn’t be so variable, that’s why we’re testing this and it’s not open to the public yet.” On the other hand, Bennett avoided to give a straight answer on when should customers expect 40 Mbps speeds to be the average, only saying that “I think, as is the nature of these things, you roll forward, the technology improves and you allocate more capacity to it”.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like a polite way of saying you should expect 20 Mbps or so to be the norm for a long time to come. Is that enough for you? And if so, will you be buying EE’s Galaxy S3, HTC One XL or Huawei Ascend P1?