Quick advice: Should I get 4G?

We got an email from a BurnTech.TV reader earlier asking us about 4G. Essentially it boiled down to asking, ‘what is the point of 4G’? It’s a recurring theme, and one we fel compelled to delve deeper into.

The 4G era was launched by Everything Everywhere (EE) in the UK, where the governments auction of the 4G rights provided the newly merged and branded company with a period of excuisivity. That period of exclusivity ends in the late summer of 2013, meaning the market is about to open up markedly.

In our opinion EE did a very poor job. The whole reorganisation of Orange and T-Mobile was confusing and poorly executed. The branding was weak and the adverts were poor, systematically failing to inform the UK consumer about the benefits of 4G.

EE also didn’t help by providing over-priced, monopoly-abusing packages for 4G, which cost too much and didn’t deliver the data quantities needed to make the service work for the consumer. It was an inauspicious start for what is a solid improvement on 3G.

Perhaps that will now change, with more carriers lining up behind the service this year. Vodafone have today announced that they only intend to push 4G ready smartphones from now on. The company turn on 4G on the 29th August, and feel that they can capitalise on the big opportunity lost by their rival, EE.

The feeling within the industry is said to be one of smug confidence amongst EE’s rivals. When the newly merged Orange and T-Mobile won the rights to the first round of 4G, the rest of the carriers feared the worst. With their huge advertising budgets and the power of their brands, combined with a unique offering in a data hungry world, EE were expected to clean up.

For company’s like Vodafone, EE’s failing can be their gain. Therefore, it isn’t hugely surprising to hear Guy Laurence, the UK CEO at Vodafone talking about a new 4G focus. 3G he said, would not be abandoned but they are now focussing on 4G for their mid-tier and top-tier phones.

So when our reader asks, should I get 4G, the answer increasingly appears that you will end up getting it, like it or not (presuming you’re after a mid-tier or better smartphone next up).

However, this in itself is a big part of making 4G good for you and me. More 4G sales equal more 4G usage, which in turn drives the cost down. Laurence acknowledged this very fact:

“Vodafone is really only interested in 4G-ready smartphones from now on,” he said. “The more we can we sell the cheaper it becomes for the public.”

With new devices lined up aplenty this autumn/winter, including new offerings from LG, Samsung, Nokia, HTC and Apple, all of which, aside from Apple, have announced new 4G-ready handsets are coming in the next couple of months.

So 4G is about to get better – hopefully much better.

It delivers faster data downloading, making it possible for you to browse the web after on the go, use services like maps and other essential smartphone features. We question the need for the on the go video uplift benefits, but on the whole 4G removes a lot of the 3G lag time, and slow downloading. It makes your smartphone better, and with the right package, it is well worth getting.

It’s actually a little like moving from regular TV to HD. You don’t know you need it, but once you get it…

So the time for getting 4G is fast approaching. Wait until the last quarter of this year for the best deals, and then bite the bullet. You won’t regret it.