29 August is the magic date for 4G to get competitive in the UK
Vodafone has announced it will launch its 4G service in the UK at the end of August on the same day that O2 announced it would be launching its 4G service.
Vodafone will launch ultra fast 4G services in London on 29 August, with speeds typically six times faster than standard 3G. All customers on Vodafone Red 4G-ready, which is also available for small business customers, will automatically have 4G enabled when the service launches.
After London, launches in Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield will come before the end of the year. Vodafone will bring indoor 4G coverage to 98% of the UK population by 2015, it claimed.
O2's 4G network will be switched on in London, Leeds and Bradford on 29 August, reaching up to five million people from launch. O2's roll out plan aims to make 4G available to an additional two million people per month, culminating in O2's 2G, 3G and 4G network reaching 98% of the UK population both indoor and outdoor. The service will be live in 13 cities by the end of this year, O2 stated.
More than £900 million is being invested in the Vodafone network this year alone, and that comes after Vodafone spent £802 million acquiring the widest portfolio of mobile spectrum in the recent auction. That portfolio includes the crucial low-frequency spectrum that means Vodafone's 4G signal will travel further into buildings.
O2 invested £550 million to secure its proportion of the UK's lowest frequency spectrum (800Mhz), which was released to O2 at the end of May and was fully cleared for all operators in the auction by Ofcom this week.
Anyone on Vodafone Red who already has a 4G-ready device, can enjoy Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV, double the amount of data they currently get and access 4G for just £5 extra a month, without needing to sign up to a new contract with Vodafone.
Guy Laurence, CEO, Vodafone UK said: 'With 4G, speed is just the start: it's what you do with it that really matters. We are taking 4G into a new league by offering sport; and changing the tune with all the music you could want. 4G is finally worth getting and there's plenty to look forward to.'
Smart Chimps thinks: This is where things begin to get competitive and very interesting in Britain, as the 4G operators begin to launch services. This year's batch have had the opportunity to watch EE's strategy roll out. Let's see if it gives them any advantages!