The battle for 4G: Vodafone and O2 switch on 'super-fast' mobile services as 3 promises to offer theirs for free

Rivals to EE playing catch-up on coverage, while Three says those willing to wait until its December launch would not need to pay an additional premium, regardless of their price plan

The battle to attract customers to use new 4G mobile networks stepped up a notch today, as Vodafone and O2 both launched their versions of the service and Three said it would provide it for free to those prepared to wait for its offering to start in December.

Rival firm EE got a jump on the competition when they launched their “super-fast” 4G service in the UK last October, and are reported to be winning “hands down” when it comes to coverage.

But the other networks are now catching up, with O2 switching on the service for up to five million people in London, Leeds and Bradford, while Vodafone launched in parts of the capital.

Both say they plan to ultimately provide coverage to 98 per cent of the population, and by the end of this year they say they will be bringing 4G to London, Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Meanwhile, for those willing to wait until its service launches in December, mobile network Three said its customers would be offered 4G across all of its price plans – meaning no premium charges like those levied by its competitors.

The move is expected to launch a price war, while EE’s rivals will need to offer a series of perks to compensate for a relative lack of coverage, uSwitch.com telecoms expert Ernest Doku said.

“The other networks certainly have some catching up to do,” he said.

“But while Vodafone and O2 can't compete on coverage or match EE's touted average speed of 24Mbps, they will be trying to win over customers from today with a selection of perks.”

He said that while current pricing rates look pretty similar across the board, some consumers may now choose to “play the waiting game” to take advantage of Three's service when it launches at the end of the year in London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Vodafone said 4G – the so-called “fourth generation” of networks – will be able to provide data to smartphone users at a rate around six times faster than the current 3G services.

The company paid £802 million to secure the necessary mobile phone frequencies, while O2 spent £550 million to stake its own claim to the lowest proportion of the spectrum.

Guy Laurence, chief executive of Vodafone UK, said 4G was a “step change” that would allow people to watch football matches or download thousands of songs on the go, and said they already had 20,000 customers signed up.

He told Sky News: “I think adoption will be far faster than it was for 3G 10 years ago, because people didn't really know how to use it. It is no good trying to sell technology to people, you have to sell something they want, and they want entertainment.“

He added that 4G uses old television frequencies which would allow the signal to penetrate into houses far more effectively than 3G, and said: “By the end of 2015 we will have 98 per cent coverage. To give you an idea, only 98.4 per cent of dwellings have running water. So 98 per cent is very high indeed.”

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Boxer Amir Khan will travel to Pakistan in bid to 'make a difference' in the wake of army school massacre
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

    £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Engineer with SQL skills

    £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

    Day In a Page

    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture