Much to my surprise, O2 sent me a text on Wednesday. The text wasn't the surprising bit - they often send me texts offering me something that I don't want. The surprise was that this time they didn't offer, they told me that I was just going to get it. It was 4G. And I wanted it.
4G. For nothing. No options. No discussion. No questions allowed. No SIM change needed. No conversation about impact on battery life. Just: turn off your phone in the morning and turn it back on, and if you're in a 4G area, it's all yours.
The next morning I was in Camden Town - no sign of 4G there. Clearly Camden is a bit rural to have coverage just yet.
But later, in Whitehall, it worked just fine. And fine means a consistent 15mb/s download (versus the previous day's 3G download speed of 2mb/s).
During 2012/13 I set up a JV owned by the four mobile operators, called at800, that had the task of managing any negative impact from interference with TV signals that might occur because the bottom of the 4G range aligns with the top of the TV range (and, until some recent work by Digital UK, overlapped).
After a couple of days testing 4G, I have this to say:
- Coverage in buildings where 3G coverage was previously poor to non-existent has much improved (I can even make calls from the dead centre of buildings where previously I stared only at "No Service")
- Download speeds are certainly faster (roughly equivalent to what I get from Satellite broadband, but without the round trip lag)
- Battery life seems unchanged (I wonder if battery usage is higher during download but because download is so much faster, there's less overall drain)
That said, the nearest mast to my home is still some 200 miles away. Keep rolling it out O2.
I have no idea how widespread this offer is but, if you get the same text, say "yes". Not that you'll have any choice. But so far, it's all upside.