Understanding 4G, 4G+ and data allowances

Understanding 4G

Today in my article ‘Understanding 4G, 4G+ and data allowances’ I am going to discuss everything you need to now about 4G from download speeds to data allowances and what they cover. 

I am going to limit the jargon so I hope that even the technophobe can get an understanding of 4G and what you need to know.

Introducing data

Okay so just over a decade ago we were introduced to 3G and after a bit of head scratching we all decided that it wasn’t worth understanding much more than 3G gives us faster internet access and a megabyte will let us send a fair few emails.

The picture has changed since then though as 4G took us into a new era of internet speed. Followed just recently by 4G+ and with no sign of unlimited data packages, it certainly seems like it is time to find out exactly what each of the big networks are offering.

4G, 4G+ and EE

Giving us our first dose of 4G, EE has been a leader in the field of fast data for smartphones and you can now choose to connect to a tariff that will give you either 4G or 4G+. 4G once again is simply a faster than 3G connection to the internet but 4G+ is just a little bit smarter than 4G on its own.


See phones with 4G


What is 4G+? In the UK the 4G signal is broadcast by the networks on one of two frequencies. EE have now taken advantage of this oddity and is broadcasting its 4G signal on both of the two frequencies.

EE 4G

What does this mean? If you have a compatible phone such as the Samsung Galaxy Alpha or Galaxy Note 4 and are on a 4GEE Extra tariff then your smartphone can use both frequences at once to increase the speed. Its like turning on two taps and filling a bucket with water at twice the speed.


Check out our Samsung Galaxy Alpha review and our Samsung Galaxy Note 4 review.


Oops Jargon! Although the actual figures mean little to most of us EE states that you should get download speeds of between 90Mbps and 150Mbps. 4G alone only offers average speeds of between 12Mbps and 15Mbps! 

4G+ coverage: You can take advantage of 4G+ in central London now, followed by Greater London in June and Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester shortly after that. 

EE data allowances: 

The maximum data allowance on 4G or 4G+ is 20GB per month. Once this runs out you need to buy an Add-on to continue using more data. These include 1 day (100MB) for £1.99, 1 week (1GB) for £5.99 and End of bill cycle (10GB) for £15.99.

Tethering: Oops more Jargon! Tethering is pretty clever as it lets your smartphone convert the 4G connection and share it with other devices like a laptop over Wi-Fi or a USB cable. The good news is tethering is included in the data allowance provided by EE.View EE deals

4G on Vodafone

Once again we see a range of 4G data allowances offered by Vodafone with the maximum package including 20GB per month. After your allowance has been used you will be charged £6.50 for every further 250MB of data usage but you can save money by adding on the Vodafone Boost Extra which gives 2GB of extra data for £10 per month. View Vodafone deals

Tethering? Tethering is allowed.

Data Test Drive: One great thing about Vodafone is that you can have a 3 month Data Test Drive where you can use unlimited data for that period to see how much data you use.

4G on O2

The maximum data allowance on O2 is just 8GB and after this point you can use up to 50MB a day without being charged more than £1, all be it at a lower speed with the loss of many 4G services.

O2 4G

You can request a data bolt on to regain normal 4G services and these include 100MB for £3, 500MB for £6, 1GB for £10 or 2GB for £13 per month. Tethering is also allowed.View O2 deals

4G on Three

All you can eat data on Three might be the right option for you but only if you do not intend to use tethering. This tariff only permits you to use tethering for up to 2GB. After this point you can buy the all you can eat data add-on for £3 which would then give you another 2GB of tethering.View 3 deals

4G verdict

Choosing the right 4G provider may seem a little daunting. However, the following flowchart ‘How to choose a 4G network’ should put you on the right path.

How to choose a 4G network

Written by: Michael Brown

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