As I blogged on Saturday, I’ve just joined the 4G revolution with a Huawei E539 mifi device from EE. I was very keen to give it a test drive.
So far, so good, although I can’t say I’ve been overwhelmed – so far. I’ve not noticed a transformed experience compared with my Three 3G service. And EE’s website claim that they have 4G coverage in my street and the surrounding area proved plain wrong.
I shouldn’t be too harsh. You can see from the speed test below that EE was dramatically better than Three’s 3G service in London’s Green Park yesterday. (The top two results in the screenshot.) EE 4G scored 8.30 Mbps compared with Three’s 0.80 Mbps. And just look at the upload speed: an impressive 12.82 Mbps. I can’t dispute the figures; it’s just that I’ve not yet noticed a wild difference in my day to day online experience on the go. I’ll let you know if that changes after I’ve given it a more comprehensive test drive.
EE speed test: 8.30Mbps v 0.80Mbps on 3G
EE to go
I’ve just joined the 4G revolution, through a Huawei E539 mifi device with EE, Britain’s first 4G network. It was the cheapest and most flexible way of going 4G. And 10 months with a Huawei E586 mifi device with Three convinced me that mifi is the best way to get internet-on-the-go.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that EE had a shop in Amersham, so we popped in after our regular Saturday coffee-and-smoothie break after Owen’s football class.
I knew what I wanted, so it should have been simple. But thanks to a simple misunderstanding, the shop set me up with a USB mobile broadband dongle. Luckily, I asked the shop to put the SIM in. At that point, we realised the mistake.
We’d been there for almost an hour by now, and the shop fell silent as the staff consulted in the stock room. They emerged to share the bad news: the shop only had 3G, not 4G, mifi units in stock. But they made a very generous offer: if I wanted a 4G one today, Ben, the person who served me, would go to the EE store in Harrow, London, to get one and bring it back in time for me to collect it later. And that’s exactly what happened.
This was outstanding service. I was resigned to not getting my mifi today, and didn’t complain at all. So the offer was prompted purely by concern not to disappoint a customer.
It has been a brilliant introduction to EE. Thank you Ben and colleagues.
It’s been a long wait, but Britain finally got a 4G mobile phone network today as EE opened for business.
Don’t all rush to sign up though: the 4GEE service is only currently available in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and eight other cities, with others following by the end of the year.
A bigger issue is that the cheapest £36 a month contract includes just 500MB of data. So if you’re tempted to download an episode of BBC Top Gear in under a minute on your smartphone (as the Guardian’s Josh Halliday did testing 4GEE), you’ll have used up your whole monthly allowance. Sure, you can use wifi to avoid blowing your allowance, but that rather defeats the point of 4G. More generous allowances will cost up to £56 a month.
To be fair to EE, it needs to get a return on its investment. But it remains to be seen how quickly consumers upgrade to 4G. Britain’s mobile networks invested huge sums in 3G licences a decade ago, but consumers were slow to sign up. 4G may be different: we’re now shopping, watching video, route-planning and connecting via Facebook on our phones. Doing all those things faster is an attractive idea.