The upshot for you is that the data is 'flatter', as in it's easier for the networks to stream, so should theoretically be cheaper. Whether those cost savings are ever passed on remains to be seen – it's not cheap to roll out 4G, especially at this rate of deployment across the UK.

It's possible that further increases in speed could be achieved with MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology, which uses multiple antennas on transmitters and receivers like 802.11n Wi-Fi equipment.

Nokia has reportedly achieved 173Mbps from 4G with a 2x2 MIMO configuration (two antennas on both the transmitter and receiver), so a 4x4 arrangement could potentially offer as much as 326.4Mbps, although this isn't something we need to think about right now… although perhaps we'll see these speeds on the iPhone 10?

LTE-A and the future of 4G

The UK may only just be fully embracing 4G but some parts of the world are already looking to the next generation of high speed mobile data. That next step is LTE-A (the 'A' is for 'advanced', fact fans).

Essentially it works by increasing the number of antennas in use as detailed above, alongside 'carrier aggregation' which allows a device to combine multiple 4G signals or even multiple different frequencies, rather than just using one at a time as standard 4G does.

In theory LTE-A can deliver far greater data speeds than the 4G of today. In fact it could potentially reach real world speeds of well over 160 Mbps, which is comparable to a 20MB home broadband connection.

LTE-A won't work on 4G-ready phones as they'll specifically need an LTE-A chip in them, however there are already a few LTE-A compatible handsets out.

For example there's an LTE-A version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 which is available in some parts of the world, but if you're considering importing it, don't, because other than a very small scale trial by EE none of our networks currently support LTE-A.

The UK will certainly get in on the act one day, in fact EE is talking about making an LTE-A network commercially available sometime in 2014. But the technology is still in its infancy and we've only just got normal LTE, so we've probably got a while to wait before it's widely available.