Fourth Generation (4G) mobile services have finally arrived in the UK, allowing users of mobile broadband to take advantage of the faster speeds now available to them. With download speeds of up to 40Mbps and upload speeds of up to 12Mbps in 4G-enabled areas, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for mobile broadband users, allowing them to potentially stream TV and HD video on the go. It's good news for gamers, too. 4G has lower latency, making games more responsive and reducing that annoying lag that can plague gamers at crucial moments.
So, where is it currently available? As of the end of March 2013, 4G coverage is available in 50 towns and cities around the UK, with plans to cover 70% of the UK by the end of 2013, and 98% by the end of 2014. Some of the areas with 4G available already include Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
If you're interested in 4G, then you'll need a provider. EE are currently the only supplier of 4G services in the UK. Their services went live in October 2012, and they have a range of packages available to suit customer needs, from USB dongles for individual laptop users, to WiFi routers for multiple devices on the go, to packages including iPads for those who want the convenience of a tablet while out and about. However, EE won't be the only 4G suppliers on the market for much longer, meaning customers will have more choices for 4G suppliers available to them in the near future. BT, O2, Three and Vodaphone will also be offering 4G mobile broadband plans at some point this year, likely from the Summer onwards.
Interested in getting 4G mobile broadband? Check out our handy 4G mobile broadband comparison table to find the best deal for you!
Virgin Media are offering 6 months half price on their TV, broadband and phone collections.
The Essential Collection starts at £13 a month, increasing to £26 a month after the first 6 months. It comes with over 90 TV channels, a 500GB TiVo box and unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles and an up to 30Mb fibre optic broadband connection.
Similarly, the Premiere Collection also comes with a 500GB TiVo box and unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles, plus over 185 TV channels and an up to 60Mb broadband connection. It costs £24 a month, increasing to £48 after the first 6 months.
The VIP Collection is £49.50 for the first 6 months, increasing to £90 a month. It comes with an up to 100Mb broadband connection, over 250 TV channels and a 1TB TiVo box. The included phone package includes unlimited Anytime calls to UK landlines, 0845 and 0870 numbers and all mobile providers. It also includes Talk International for cheaper international calls.
All three of these Collection packages come with Virgin TV Anywhere (which allows you to watch live TV and use On Demand from your computer or mobile device) and free installation.
The Classic Collection remains at £8 a month for 6 months, which works out at better than half price. It comes with over 55 TV channels, a 500GB TiVo box, unlimited weekend calls to UK landlines and Virgin mobiles and a fibre optic broadband connection of up to 30Mb a month. Installation costs £49.95.
Line rental from Virgin Media is required for all Collections at £14.99 a month.
December 2012 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test rise by more than 2Mb in comparison to the results from November, coming in at 19.37Mb. Average upload speeds saw a smaller increase, coming in at 2.33Mb.
Virgin Media's average download speed has increased by almost 5Mb compared to last month, now coming in at 37.22Mb with upload speeds remaining stable at 2.88Mb. Despite seeing a small download speed increase, BT Broadband dropped to 4th place with download speeds averaging at 15.76Mb and upload speeds of 3.38Mb. Instead Eclipse took 2nd place with 16.63Mb average download speed and 3.11Mb average upload speed.
Plusnet came in at 3rd place with an impressive 3.9Mb increase to 11.94Mb average download speed. Plusnet also achieved the fastest average upload speed of any provider, coming in at 3.62Mb. These increases are likely due to a greater number of customers switching over to Plusnet Fibre, combined with improvements in Plusnet's traffic management policies launched in December.
Please note, Orange are now trading as EE, and speed test results only include numbers from their fixed line broadband packages, and not their 4G mobile broadband packages.
November 2012 saw average download speeds recorded by users of our Broadband Speed Test drop in comparison to the results from October, coming in at 17.1Mb. Average upload speeds remained stable at around 2Mb.
Virgin Media's average download speeds have decreased by 1Mb over last month to 32.39Mb with upload speeds remaining stable at 2.62Mb. BT Broadband takes second place with download speeds averaging at 15.57Mb (a 1Mb increase over last month) and upload speeds of 3.45Mb. Eclipse drops to third place with a 2Mb decrease to 15.1Mb for average download speeds, and a 0.5Mb decrease to 2.75Mb for average upload speeds. Plusnet came in at 4th place with 11.94Mb download, a small decrease in speed since last month.
Orange are now trading as EE, and speed test results only include numbers from their fixed line broadband packages, and not their 4G mobile broadband packages.
Tesco are offering £30 giftcards when customers sign up for their broadband and phone packages. This is on top of their current reduced price broadband deals, which start at £2.50 a month for 12 months. To claim both offers, be sure to quote 'GIFTCARD-D' on checkout.
Sky Broadband recently launched the new Sky Hub, which claims to be the router with best wireless range of any major provider, based on an independent study. The Hub offers Sky Smart Signal technology which constantly scans for interference in the home and selects the best wireless signal available. It also provides easy WiFi Protected Setup for WPS enabled devices.
Sky+ customers will be able to connect the Sky Hub to their Sky+ Box to access Sky's new On Demand entertainment services, which can also be accessed when out and about with the help of the Sky Cloud WiFi app.
The Sky Hub is provided to new customers as an inclusive part of their Sky Broadband package. Existing Sky Broadband customers can upgrade to the Hub for an introductory price of £39.
We also managed to get our hands on ten Sky Hubs and five Sky Wireless Connectors to give away in a competition that ran until the 6th of December. The lucky winners will hear from us by the 13th of December.