Three has revealed it will bring 4G to customers in London, Birmingham and Manchester in December at no extra cost, as O2 and Vodafone went live today with their own next generation offers.
By January, more than 1.5 million Three customers will be able to use its 4G network, so long as they have a 4G ready device. By the end of 2014, 50 cities will be covered by its 4G network and population coverage will be 98% by the end of 2015. Three will differ from its operator rivals by offering unlimited 4G data to consumers.
Meanwhile, Vodafone has revealed more than 20,000 customers have signed up to its 4G network before it went live today. Currently London is the only city where customers can sign up to the service. Its Ultrafast 4G offer gives its customers access to either Spotify Premium of Sky Sports Mobile TV. Twenty four month price plans with a handset begin from £34 per month for 500MB of data up to £57 per month for 8GB. A Samsung Galaxy S4 is available for no upfront cost from £43 per month with 4GB of data.
Guy Laurence, Vodafone UK CEO, said: 'Vodafone Ultrafast 4G is here and we’re giving people a reason to get excited about it as we switch on a new site every 30 minutes. We’re bringing the capital closer to the action with Sky Sports and letting Londoners stream 20 million tracks with Spotify. We’re also giving the city’s busy businesses a boost by helping them take their office with them when they’re out and about. In fact, in the few days since we launched our 4G plans, more than 20,000 people have signed up. So, the question for Londoners now is: which do you want - music or sport?'
O2 is live in more launch cities than Vodafone - London, Leeds and Bradford. It is offering consumers a range of music, sport and gaming content, including free music and video through its O2 Tracks service and multiplayer gaming that does not use its data allowance. All customers who sign up to 4G have a 90 day 'Happiness Guarantee' to roadtest the network.
Tariffs start from £26 per month for a Sim-only plan with data allowances ranging from 1GB to 8GB. A Samsung Galaxy S4 is available for no upfront cost with 5GB of data for £47 per month.
O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: 'Today marks the first step in our ambitious plan to bring 4G services to millions more people across the UK. The possibilities of 4G – be it for consumers or businesses – have not yet been realised. For many, 4G mobile services represent faster download speeds and acceptable video streaming on the train. We all need to start thinking bigger.
'For consumers, the arrival of mass-market 4G marks the beginning of an exciting new era, bringing them closer to the things they are passionate about. For businesses, 4G represents the new infrastructure vital to powering the products and services they need to help turn our faltering recovery into a steady one. The mass-market arrival of 4G marks a new generation for the digital age and we’re excited to be celebrating the occasion today with our customers.'
Looking ahead, Vodafone said it will switch on 4G in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield within a month. The operator has doubled its network investment in London to £100m this year and said it is switching on a new site every half hour in the UK's capital during the next two months. By the end of the year, the 4G service will be brought to Bradford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle.
O2 is marking the launch of 4G with a gig by Plan B in the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in west London this evening. Its 4G service will be live across in Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh by the end of 2013. Its rollout will extend to an additional two million people per month.
Author: Graeme Neill