Cambridgeshire: County Cut Off From 4G

4 October 2012, 14:00

Despite Cambridgeshire being a hub for design and research of mobile phone handsets we won't be amongst the first to get "4G" phone coverage.

Vodafone, o2 and EE (Everthing Everywhere, the parent company of merged Orange/T-Mobile), all say they have no plans to introduce faster mobile broadband in Cambridgeshire til 2013 at the earliest. 

It's after EE announced it's lauching its' 4G in ten cities - not including Cambridge or Peterborough - at the end of this month.

The cities to get the UK's first next generation mobile broadband signals will be London, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester. 

The 4G network, which offers speeds up to five times faster than 3G, will be available on the Apple iPhone 5 as well as devices from HTC, Samsung, Nokia and Huawei. 

The announcement comes after regulator Ofcom this week agreed to make remaining 4G airspace available to other operators sooner than planned - averting a legal challenge from the likes of rivals Vodafone and O2 owner Telefonica. 

Clearing the airwaves ready for use earlier will allow other operators to offer their services by spring next year, rather than October 2013. 

EE chief executive Olaf Swantee told Heart: "This is a significant milestone for the UK and for the people and businesses of our country who will now be able to enjoy the huge advantages of superfast 4G technology for the first time.'' 

EE said customers in a further six cities - Belfast, Derby, Hull, Newcastle, Nottingham and Southampton - will have access to 4G by the end of the year. 

The group then plans to roll out the service to further towns, cities and rural areas next year, with population coverage of 70% and rising to 98% in 2014. 

The 4G services will allow uninterrupted access to the web on the go, high definition movies to be downloaded in minutes and TV to be streamed without buffering. 

Ofcom's decision to make the services available to other operators earlier than planned came after a meeting hosted by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. 

Culture Secretary Maria Miller said the Government expects that 4G services will boost the UK's economy by around #2 to #3 billion. She said: "Delivering 4G quickly is a key part of our economic growth strategy. I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services.''

Heart asked all four networks why Cambridgeshire doesn't feature on their first or even second list of areas to roll out 4G, especially considering the county is home to much research and development of the handsets themselves.

A spokesman for o2 told Heart: "The spectrum would be made available in May and the company would launch its own 4G service as quickly as it could after it is acquired."

A spokesman for EE (Orange and T-Mobile) told Heart: "The EE 4G network will continue to be rolled out across the country reaching more cities and rural areas throughout 2013 and beyond, as part of the company's £1.5bn network infrastructure investment. We plan for 4G LTE to reach 98% of the UK by the end of 2014."

Vodafone have told Heart there's no plans for Cambridgeshire to be on the initial roll-out of 4G on their network but will make further announcements in future.