Have you ever considered getting 4G broadband for your business or home? Were you unsure if it would provide the necessary speeds for you?
Well, this quick guide will explain everything you need to know about 4G internet speeds.
We’ll discuss what average 4G speeds are, what affects 4G speeds and what speeds you need for the most common internet activities.
What is 4G broadband?
Unlike traditional broadband, mobile broadband uses the mobile phone network to provide an internet connection. It is very similar to the way your smartphone operates.
The 4G signal is transmitted from a nearby cell mast to a 4G router in your business or home. This is then distributed from the router to your devices using WiFi.
There are no cables needed and you don’t even need a landline for it to work.
Can 4G LTE replace traditional internet?
4G broadband is definitely a viable alternative to a traditional fixed line broadband connection.
Here are some of the main reasons why 4G broadband is a good alternative:
- It can offer faster speeds than ADSL and FTTC connections.
- It can cater for a large number of users at once.
- There’s no need for a landline for 4G to work so you don’t need to pay line rental.
- Average latency (or lag) is also relatively low for 4G broadband, particularly when compared to satellite internet, meaning it provides a positive user experience.
- As it is not reliant on cabling, you can take 4G internet with you when you move to a different office space or house.
Who is it suitable for?
Anyone who is in a rural area or who cannot access decent fixed broadband should consider 4G broadband.
As long as you have a relatively decent mobile signal, you will have access to 4G broadband.
It’s ideal for any businesses or families who move around a lot from premise to premise, as it can be taken with you when you move.
4G broadband can be a suitable solution for you if you’re a heavy user or a light user. You will just need to bear in mind that if you are a heavy data user (e.g. you stream/game a lot) then you will need a higher data allowance.
What are average 4G internet speeds?
4G offers maximum real-world download speeds up to around 100Mbps, making it over 20 times faster than 3G.
Theoretical speeds are up to 150Mbps, but these speeds aren’t often reflected in typical speeds in practical use.
Is 4G considered high speed internet?
In the UK, ‘superfast’ broadband is defined as any connection with a download speed of 24Mbps and above. 4G broadband can easily exceed these superfast speeds and should be considered a method of getting high-speed internet to your premises.
The actual speed you will achieve on 4G broadband is dependent on the strength of mobile signal in your location, your proximity to a cell mast and the devices you are using.
What is a good 4G LTE speed?
Tests by OpenSignal have suggested that average 4G internet speeds in the UK are 29Mbps.
Therefore, any speed of 30Mbps and above should be considered an excellent 4G LTE speed.
So, are 4G internet speeds fast enough for…?
You’ll need different average speeds for different video qualities. The higher the quality you want to stream in, the higher the speed you’ll need.
For example, on BBC iPlayer you only need an average speed of 1.5Mbps download to watch standard quality TV but you’ll need 5Mbps to stream in HD.
Netflix have stated that for standard definition ( 480p) you will require at least 3Mbps. For high definition (1080p) you’ll need 5Mbps and for ultra-high definition (4K or 2160p) you’ll need a minimum of 25Mbps download speed.
Note the fact the term ‘minimum’ has been used next to the speed estimation for streaming 4K. It’s likely that an extra 10 or 15Mbps over this minimum would be useful to ensure consistent streaming at this definition.
4G internet is capable of providing the right speeds for all of these streaming definitions to work.
You only need 1-5Mbps to browse the internet. A 4G internet connection should comfortably allow you to do this, providing you do have 4G signal in your area.
VoIP / Video calling
Similar to streaming the speed you need for this will depend on the quality of the call.
Skype recommends at least 1.2Mbps for a HD video call using their software.
Voice calling (without video accompaniment) requires even less speed than this. VoIP technology is often used in tandem with 4G internet as you don’t need a landline for 4G broadband to work.
This requires good upload speeds as well as download speeds for the best gaming experience.
It is recommended that you have at least 3Mbps upload speed to game online. Having a decent upload speed will allow you to see quicker responses to your in-game commands and any activity that requires data to be sent from your computer to the server.
Whilst achieving these speeds should not be a problem for 4G internet, latency (lag) is another factor to consider. 4G broadband does have higher latency compared to fibre broadband. However, if you don’t have access to a fibre connection, 4G is likely your best alternative.
Surprise surprise, the speed you need for CCTV is again dependent on exactly what quality footage you are looking for. If you have a higher quality camera, you will need more speed.
A download speed of 3Mbps and an average upload speed of 1Mbps is recommended for a CCTV system.
If you were to acquire a 4k CCTV camera, the recommended download speed is around 12mbps.
Is 4G fast enough for me
4G internet is fast and reliable enough for most businesses and homes to use.
It’s very capable of providing superfast broadband speeds and handling a wide range of internet activity.
The exact 4G broadband speeds you can achieve will depend on where you are located. Check your 4G coverage using the coverage checker here.
FAQs: 4G internet speed
Why is my 4G so slow
There are several reasons your 4G might be slow.
- You’re not in a 4G coverage area.
- You’re on the wrong carrier for your area. For example, you are using a Vodafone data SIM when EE has the best coverage in the area.
- Network congestion. This is particularly likely if your 4G internet speeds slow down at peak usage times.
- Hardware or cabling issues.
What affects mobile broadband speeds
There are multiple factors that influence the strength of your 4G mobile connection. They are:
- Mobile network coverage and signal quality
- Your proximity to a cell mast
- The quality of your broadband router and WiFi network
- The devices you are using to connect with
- Network congestion at peak times
- Do you have an external high-gain antenna fitted or just an internal broadband hub
Which UK network offers the fastest 4G speeds
EE is considered to have the fastest 4G speeds in the country. Vodafone and Three offer the next fastest 4G networks with O2 coming in as the mobile provider with the slowest speeds.
Read our blog on the fastest 4G mobile broadband service in the UK here.
How do I find out what my 4G mobile coverage is like
You need to perform a coverage check for your property to find out which mobile operator has the best coverage in your area. All you need to do is enter your postcode into the checker and it will tell you to what degree you have 4G outdoor and indoor coverage in that location.
This will give you an indication as to what 4G broadband performance may be like where you are.
You can find links to EE’s, Vodafone’s and O2’s coverage checkers here.