LTE (Long Term Evolution) in very basic terms is a mobile data technology that offers very fast data. Imagine if you will, downloading data onto your iPhone at a something like 50Mbit/s in real world situations and you’re getting the gist. It is probably the catalyst for iCloud and iTunes Match to really take off and on device storage to become of minor importance when you can access cloud data at those sorts of speeds. Unfortunately those of us who live in the UK look like having to wait a whole lot longer and more likely for the iPhone 6 launch before any of this will matter.
In the UK, LTE is years behind the US and most parts of Europe too, a country that usually leads in technology uptake has certainly taken a back seat with this one. The reasons why it is so far behind are very unclear and complicated. LTE in the UK is slated to operate on 800Mhz and 2.6GHz frequencies and is set to be auctioned off by the end of this year by regulator Ofcom. The auction has been delayed and delayed as carriers and Ofcom argued over the auction and now bids aren’t expected until early 2013. In the meantime the rest of the world gets new handsets with super-fast downloads and we are stuck on slow 3G and GPRS is lots of areas.. After the auction has ended, you may see a bit of LTE by the end of 2013 if you are lucky and of course by then you will have an iPhone 6 too.
It’s not all bad news though if you are a customer of Everything Everywhere, a merger between Orange and T-Mobile.It announced earlier this week that Ofcom had approved its license application to start deploying LTE on its current 1800MHz network from this September. It could just be a coincidence but that is also the rumored announcement time frame for the iPhone 5. If the iPhone 5 does support LTE on the 1800MHz network, Everything Everywhere could have pulled off a shrewd bit of business and stolen a significant advantage over Vodafone, O2 and 3; they will be smarting.
So that is the current dismal situation with LTE in the UK. On iPhone 5 launch day, the US and parts of Europe will be enjoying streaming without stuttering and backups that take seconds not days; the UK will look on with great jealousy. The rumored bigger screen of the iPhone 5 will ease the pain a little but data speeds are where it matters most for me.
If you're in the UK, are you disappointed with the slow progression of LTE? Would you consider leaving your current provider to join Everything Everywhere to get LTE a bit earlier?