MOBILE OPERATOR EE has become the first in the UK to offer visitors roaming on to its network access to 4G signals.
At present, its customers are not able to roam on 4G networks abroad, however this is expected to be added in early 2014. Roamers with compatible handsets will now be able to receive EE's 4G signal in coverage areas.
However, the logistics of LTE technology mean that handsets are limited as to the sub-frequencies that are available, and so extra infrastructure has to be implemented to allow foreign handsets to work on UK networks.
Additionally, there has been an inevitable format war in the field, with some carriers opting for the rival WiMAX standard, however this is being phased out in most territories.
The first foreign mobile operator to take advantage of the new agreement is US carrier AT&T, with more expected to be announced soon.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee said, "Technology is not just shaping how people book and research holidays; but what they look for when they are choosing a country to visit. From finding their way to local landmarks, to avoiding the Oxford street crowds by shopping on their tablet, tourists are increasingly looking for fast and reliable mobile experiences when they travel abroad."
In spite of that statement of the obvious, the fact remains that as relatively late bloomers in the 4G field, UK mobile operators are having to work quickly to make sure that their networks meet the expectations of foreign visitors, particularly in the US where 4G rollout has been in progress since 2010, preceded by Scandinavia in 2009. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ