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What is 4G mobile internet?

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When you get a new phone or are looking at the mobile internet as an option to access the web without a contract, then you will have seen the term ‘4G’ mentioned on more than one occasion.

Broadband Compare UK offers mobile internet as an option for you if you don’t want to sign up to a contract – you may only need the internet very occasionally, or you might only require it for a short time when away from home. If this is the case, then mobile internet may be a good alternative to a broadband internet package.

What is 4G?

The term ‘4G’ means ‘ the fourth generation.' This means it is the fourth generation of mobile technology, in terms of internet data and how it is delivered to your mobile phone, tablet, or computer. For those who aren’t familiar, it means the manner in which your mobile internet provider sends information to your mobile phone or other device using mobile internet, giving you full connectivity to the world around you, and not just via phone calls and messaging services.

The first generation, or 1G, used analogue signals to send information to devices. The second, 2G, was a digital service which allowed you to connect to basic websites designed for mobile browsing. The third generation, 3G, offered full internet access. 4G, the current generation, allows you to achieve broadband style connectivity to full websites on your mobile device. 5G will be released fairly soon too, which is likely to be super-fast.

4G offers better connectivity that a 3G connection. The 4G connection is much more reliable and offers speeds of around 15Mbps, which is around the same as ADSL broadband (which offers speeds of up to 17Mb at the most). Some 4G connections can reach up to 30Mb, which is great if you want to use mobile broadband via a dongle while you’re on the move.

One of the great features of 4G is that it allows your phone to be used as a mobile hotspot. This means you can tether your mobile to a laptop, effectively giving you broadband on the go.

How do I access 4G on my phone?

There are three steps involved in accessing 4G on your mobile device.

Firstly, you must ensure that your phone is capable of receiving a 4G signal. Not all phones can do this, but nowadays most can. If you have the latest generation smartphone, then it will almost certainly be capable of connecting to a 4G signal. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and iPhone 7 are both capable of this, amongst others.

Secondly, you must make sure that your phone is connected to a 4G plan, or your mobile 4G broadband provider operates a 4G network. This is pretty much standard, but Tesco Mobile only recently offered 4G free of charge to its customers, using the O2 mobile 4G network. Don’t forget that 4G connectivity can mean you use up data faster, so keep an eye on your data usage, so you don’t go over your limit.

Thirdly, you need to check if your area is covered by the 4G network. Coverage of 4G still doesn’t spread to the whole of the UK, so don’t waste money on a 4G plan if you can’t receive it. Check with your provider if they do offer it. Coverage percentages currently stand as:

These figures aren’t geographical. Rather, they are based on the percentage of the population who can receive 4G, so make sure that you take this into account when selecting a mobile broadband provider.

If you can’t connect to 4G, your phone will connect to 3G instead, so it isn’t the end of the world, you just won’t receive as fast a connection as you would if you were connected to a 4G network. Those with a BT Mobile contract can connect to BT Wireless Hotspots for free simply by signing in with their account details so that you can access the internet through one of the thousands of public Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK.

If you want to access mobile internet on your computer, for instance, then don’t forget that this can be achieved by using a dongle or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

4G is a great service. It offers high-speed connectivity, has a constantly developing and improving infrastructure, so it is growing in coverage at all times and offers efficient connections even under high demand. This means that the older generations are starting to fall out of use, so opting for a 4G plan is the best option.

As we said, as long as you keep an eye on your data usage, you won’t have any nasty surprises when your bill comes in. 4G beats 3G hands down. Mobile tech works like anything else. The newer the technology, the better and more improved it is.



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