Should you upgrade to 4G on your mobile?

By Chris Dawson August 7, 2014 - 8:45 am

4G has come to Thatcham so, seeing as that’s where I live, at last I’ve a real reason to upgrade my mobile tariff with Vodafone. I jumped at the chance just to see what I’ve been missing out on and the big question of course is “Is 4G worth it?”

Broadband Speed CheckerThe first question is “What sort of speed do I actually get to access the Internet at with 4G?” The answer according to Broadband Speed Checker is well over 10Mb/sec which is pretty darn good. It’s nowhere near the 36Mb/sec I get on my fibre broadband, but compared to copper broadband at 2Mb/sec it’s superb.

The second question is “Where do I get 4G?” and that’s where things start to fall down. At home upstairs and in the garden I get about 11Mb per second. In a local pub yesterday evening, I compared my mobile on 4G with my mate John’s mobile on the pub WiFi. He was getting about 2Mb/sec whilst I was romping away streaming HD video at 13Mb/sec.

However back home if I walk down the stairs into my living room I’m back to 3G most of the time and occasionally 2G. And it gets worse, today I had a meeting in Milton Keynes, one of the generation of “new towns” in the south-east of England. It might be a new town and hence fairly modern but currently Vodafone have no 4G in Milton Keynes and 3G coverage is patchy at best. In the end I resorted to a guest WiFi network to access the Internet.

One point worth noting however is that even when my mobile only shows 1 bar on the signal strength the 4G signal is way better than the 3G signal. The bandwidth that it uses is superb in comparison so when you can get 4G you get fast Internet even if your mobile signal is poor.

Should I tell you to upgrade to 4G having given it a test run? Beware of your mobile phone company ringing you up begging to upgrade the minute that 4G comes to your home town. If you’re like me when you’re at home you’ll be using WiFI so what’s the point in a 4G mobile signal?

However realistically you’ll spend most of your life in and around your home area and when you’re down town, in the pub, or walking the dogs 4G is great if it’s available. If 4G isn’t available where you live and where you work then you’ll only be able to use it when you travel in which case don’t waste your money.

Now that 4G is available in my area I’d say, that seeing as the mobile bill is a business expense, it’s worth every penny that’s knocked off my tax bill.

  • 3 years ago

    If you have a need to download large files on the go, get 4G, if not, 3G is good enough for the average things I do.

  • Simon M
    3 years ago

    …or alternatively, if you use the 3 network as I do, they upgrade you to 4G for absolutely nothing. And my tariff, at £15 a month, also has NO data limits. Just sayin’ ….

    • 3 years ago

      I would use 3… it’s just that their network isn’t nearly as good as Vodafone.

      Here’s a map of coverage around the area where I live, on the left the lightest green (of which there is rather a lot!) is all the places that 3 don’t have a mobile signal. On the right the dark red is the places Vodafone drops out.

    • Simon M
      3 years ago

      That’s a fair point – even as I sit here now in Central London, I have less than one bar strength on 4g (there’s an app for that).

      However, as you point out, 3G (or DC-HSDPA, more specifically) is ample for most people – right now in the office on 2 bars I just recorded 6.59 Mbps download and 1.18 Mbps upload speeds (that’s 3G with 4G disabled!)

      Based on those figures, I’d personally urge anyone on a budget to think very carefully whether paying more money for 4G is actually worth it!


  • james
    3 years ago

    most mobile contracts include hsdpa (H+ where the 4g would be on your screen), which has a download speed of 12MB. only 2MB less than vodafones peak 4g, so i’ll just save the £40 a month.

    (also vodafone CS are absolutely awful these days, if you ever have any issues the call centre rep will not help you with them at all, they’ll inform you that a manager will call back to help, who wont ever call back until you make another 20 calls over 3 months screaming about nobody ever calling you back)

    • 3 years ago

      Heck I’m not paying £40/month for 4g, bill went up by £6/month with a few extras thrown in.

      Fortunately I only live a few miles from Vodafone House in Newbury and I have once had occasion to wander down and sit in their reception area when they couldn’t find me a dongle compatible with Windows 8. Does wonders for focusing the minds of Customer Support if you’re sat there in front of them 😉

  • Simon M
    3 years ago

    As an ex-BlackBerry employee in Slough, I can confirm we would usually get at least 1 or 2 people come into the (corporate HQ) office for tech support every week (unplanned / off the street).

    There was a documented process for dealing with those visits, and basically involved giving them whatever they wanted to resolve their issue as quickly as possible!


  • dan
    3 years ago

    im with EE, but not on a 4g contract, and still get 10mbs regularly. so i dont know what thats about. my phone doesnt tell me its recieveing that speed through 4g either. and i dont pay a lot for my service.

    i tend to pay for the phone myself, which can be a lot but then i get what i want and not what im able to have from them, and just make do with a sim only deal. £20 a month. rather than the “free” phone and £40+ a month.

  • Cambridge_Blue
    3 years ago

    If you can get a decent 4G signal at your business base and a reasonable monthly contract with decent data allowance then this is an excellent option as a backup to your business fibre broadband.
    Many businesses like ours are on consumer grade broadband and not leased line grade services which come with decent SLAs so if we lose our connection we could be offline for days (or more if copper theft is involved).
    Hence most businesses need to have a backup plan and with 4G prices falling and coverage improving then it is now a good choice.
    Most of the business grade routers now available have the option of automatic fall back to a mobile 3G/4G connection of your choice based on set criteria you define.
    Note we are using a data only sim and not a voice enabled package as we don’t need mobility as such.

  • Tomas
    3 years ago

    Three’s 3G is excellent where I live.

    I can get 20 to 30mbit whislt in bed via HSDPA

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