Mobile network provider Manx Telecom switched on a 4G network on the Isle of Man today, bringing faster mobile internet speeds to the island’s 85,000 inhabitants.
The operator said that its 4G network is up to seven times faster than its 3G offering, making it significantly faster for mobile users to download a film, for example.
Manx Telecom expects the 4G network to be available to 95 percent of the population by the end of the summer.
Mike Dee, Manx Telecom CEO, said: “This is another first for Manx Telecom and the Isle of Man and we’re delighted to be bringing this fantastic new technology to our customers. We live in a mobile-reliant world and mobile internet is key to this.
"The growth in services like social media, video conferencing, and media streaming has been unprecedented, to the point where the ability to connect to superfast mobile broadband will soon become an expectation not a luxury. It’s with this in mind that we have partnered with Huawei to launch the new service – setting up ourselves and our customers for a connected future.”
Manx Telecom Customers already on pay monthly smartphone plans with a 4G-ready handset, such as the iPhone 5, will not be charged any extra to use 4G. However, the faster network makes it easier to consume more data so users should be careful not to go over their allocated data limit.
Isle of Man, chief minister, Hon Allan Bell MHK, said: “A world class telecoms infrastructure is always high on the list of priorities for inward investors, so it’s vitally important that the Isle of Man keeps pace with other leading jurisdictions by introducing 4G.”
The 4G rollout, first announced last November, was made possible after Chinese telecoms giant Huawei agreed to deploy a number of its 4G base stations across the island, which measures 33 miles in length and 13 miles in width.
When announcing the partnership with Huawei, Dee said Manx Telecom would be investing £10 million into 4G over the next three years, with some of that money coming from Manx Telecom's £156 million float on the London Stock Exchange.
Huawei, based in Shenzhen, SE China, said that Manx Telecom is specifically using its SingleRAN LTE solution to integrate its existing GSM/HSPA networks and the new LTE network onto a single platform. Huawei’s telecoms equipment is also used to underpin networks offered by many of the UK’s leading providers, including EE’s 300Mbps network in London’s Tech City, which is said to be the fastest in the world.
Manx Telecom has a monopoly on the fixed line services on the Isle of Man and also accounts for 76 percent of the island’s mobile market, with the remainder being met by newcomer Sure Mobile.
To mark the launch of the 4G network, Manx Telecom gave away £2,800 worth of 4G compatible handsets and 4G contracts to a family based on the Isle of Man.
Manx cyclist Mark Cavendish MBE is endorsing the new network in his role as a Manx Telecom 4G ambassador. The three time world champion and multiple Tour de France stage winner was recently presented with a Manx Telecom 4G smartphone, which he has pledged to use when he is on the Isle of Man.