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4G iPhone 5 will work on EE and Three in UK but not O2 and Vodafone

The iPhone 5 is a 4G handset, but us Brits are lagging behind a little bit when it comes to 4G connectivity, with the UK’s first ever 4G network and capabilities only announced earlier this week, so the possibility of using the iPhone 5’s 4G seems a little way off.

Well the news doesn’t appear to get any better as it turns out that although the iPhone 5 will be coming to all major British networks, it doesn’t mean that the iPhone you purchase on release day will be able to use 4G LTE on your chosen network when it does start to offer 4G services.

Initially the new 4G network EE will be the only one to sell the iPhone 5 and offer 4G connectivity, but shortly after the  Three (3) will also have access to the 4G spectrum thanks to a deal with EE’s parent company Everything Everywhere.

Both networks will release the iPhone 5 alongside a 4G network, but those unlucky folk on Vodafone and O2 will not have the ability to go 4G at any point after buying an iPhone 5.

Both O2 and Vodafone will be stocking network-specific models of the iPhone 5 which simply will not have access to the 4G network connectivity at any time. This is because the 800MHz and 2.6GHz 4G LTE frequencies that will be auctioned off next year by Ofcom aren’t supported by the new iPhone. Both EE and Three have been given the right to broadcast 4G using other frequencies that are usually used by 3G, which is the reason why they can offer 4G services with the phone.

When the networks eventually buy into the 4G network signals early in 2012 we may see newer 4G enabled versions of the iPhone 5 hitting shelves to support the new frequencies, but until then, if you buy your iPhone 5 from O2 or Vodafone you will be getting less of a service for the full price.

Pre-orders open up this Friday for the smartphone across most networks, but with EE’s network not even up and running yet users will need to bizarrely sign up for the phone or Orange or T-Mobile, and then migrate their contract to EE at a later date to make use of the 4G.

UPDATE: O2 has confirmed it will offer a “4G Phone Promise” which means that if you get an iPhone 5 on O2, they’ll give you the chance to buy out your contract early and take out a new one if and when a new version that’s compatible with O2’s forthcoming 4G network comes out.

Having to buy out a nearly new 24 month contract just to be able to use the 4G feature that’s right there in your phone all along is no doubt going to sound like nails down a chalkboard to O2 customers.

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