There has been endless coverage of EE and its 4G roll out hitting the UK, but who can blame us? It seems to have taken forever for the UK to get on the 4G train and it is exciting that it is now possible to get the much speedier connections.
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I was given a wireless hotspot by EE for a week to test out its capabilities and I was suitably impressed. Being able to Skype with my work colleagues when out and about was of great use, being able to do my emails without having to try and resend several times when the signal drops out was fantastic and sitting on a night bus home being able to catch up on Eastenders… I mean a very interesting documentary, without any buffering or pauses, was a great experience.
But, I live and work in central London. I am one of the lucky ones that, if I decide to pay the rather high prices for a 4G device, will be able to get the signal in all my daily haunts. Not everyone is so lucky though.
Remember EE has only launched its 4G services in 11 cities to begin with. It plans for an extra five by the end of the year, but this is still a very limited number and the vast majority of UK citizens won’t be anywhere near the superfast speeds for some time.
Not that you would have guessed by the firm’s advertising campaign. I will admit I am a sucker for Kevin Bacon and the TV ads of him speaking in British slang was quite entertaining, but it does give the impression 4G is available in many more locations than it is in reality.
Now a conscientious citizen has taken the issue into his own hands after EE went one step too far.
The Telegraph has reported that Jon McKnight complained to Trading Standards after seeing a poster stating “4G is here” in his local store in Plymouth. The reality is the closest city with 4G capabilities is Bristol – 120 miles away.
“The poster claims that the iPhone 5 on the superfast 4G system is available now in Plymouth and is five times faster than phones on 3G,” he wrote. “That is a lie.”
“I believe it is misleading in the extreme to suggest that an iPhone 5 bought in Plymouth would work on 4G and operate five times faster than on 3G when that service is not available here and no date has yet been announced for its introduction.”
A leaked email from the Plymouth division of Trading Standards showed it agreed with the complaint and was concerned this could be a wider issue across the UK.
EE told me it was a “single wrong poster” and an “isolated error for which we apologise” and the poster has been removed, but I agree with Trading Standards that this is likely to happen again and many might be lured into EE stores with the false hope of faster connectivity.
Like Mr McKnight we should all be aware of what we are being sold and not let operators mislead us, whether it comes to speeds, costs or usage limits.
Despite the impressive performance of 4G on my trial device, I think we will all be better off waiting until next May when all the operators have their own offerings and we as consumers have more of a choice, as well as more coverage in the UK.