Vodafone has upped its game on 4G bundles with a range of new monthly plans starting at £17 for 500MB of data and extending to £51 a month for 25GB. Existing pay monthly customers can upgrade for a one off fee of £20 which the operator will waive if they end up paying a highly monthly fee compared to their existing 3G deal.
With average revenue per user (ARPU) higher for 4G subscribers compared to 3G users, UK operators are keen to push as many customers onto 4G plans as quickly as they can in order to maximise profit, but they will be simultaneously wary of degrading service performance, download speeds and the quality of the user experience if too many subscribers sign up too quickly and cause network congestion.
Vodafone made no apologies for poaching subscribers from its rivals, offering a £20 bribe for anybody switching from either EE or 02 between now and June 30th. One thing that Vodafone does have in its favour is a fixed price guarantee that promises not to increase monthly prices in line with inflation every year, which current Ofcom guidelines allow and which rival operators routinely exploit.
As ever, direct price comparisons are difficult to make and vary significantly according to the handset in question, bundled voice and text allowances and other add-ons. But at first glance it does not seem that Vodafone is offering any sufficiently compelling deals to radically disrupt the market. At the time of writing, EE’s lowest price 4G pay monthly bundle appears to be £16.99 per month for 500MB of data rising to £38.49 per month for 20GB, for example.
The pricing of 4G bundles will almost certainly confuse some customers, continuing a long industry tradition of opaque pricing which UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has consistently pledged to address in both current and previous strategic market reviews.