The rollout of lightning-fast 4G mobile internet in the UK has been big news, as each network launches its own services and packages. EE 4G broadband, of course, was the very first to dominate the 4G market in the UK, but other providers have since introduced their own services.

This is all very exciting news for smartphone and tablet users, offering more choice in terms of networks, packages and prices, but it can also make the 4G market a very confusing one to understand. One area that can be particularly hard to navigate is the world of 4G spectrum, of which there are three different types (known as frequencies) operating in the UK.

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Here are the basics about each of these:

  • 2.6 GHz – this frequency, one of two that Ofcom auctioned off to mobile networks earlier this year, has a large data capacity. This has the advantage of allowing a lot of people to connect at once without service slowing down or being interrupted, but the downside is that it cannot travel for long distances. So, whilst it might be fine for densely populated cities, it is not suitable for rural areas of the country.
  • 800 MHz – this band, also sold off by Ofcom in the February 2013 auction, can travel for long distances, and it is good at penetrating walls so can offer a strong signal indoors. However, it does not have quite as much data capacity as the 2.6 GHz band.
  • 1800 MHz – this frequency, which is the one used for EE 4G UK coverage, strikes the perfect balance between data capacity and coverage. It falls in between the other two bands and is an excellent middle ground, allowing networks to get superfast mobile broadband with good data capacity all around the country.