4G networks offer faster download speeds and better access to streaming music and video

O2 has confirmed that its 4G LTE network will go live on August 29, beginning the battle for mobile customers seeking superfast services.

The Telefónica-owned O2 will be the first network to challenge EE, a merger between Orange and T-Mobile who have had a monopoly on 4G since October 2012. EE, which is the UK’s largest mobile operator with around 28 million customers, currently has close to 700,000 4G users.

Roll-out of O2’s 4G network will begin in three cities (London, Leeds and Bradford) before continuing across the country, adding two million people each month and eventually covering ten additional cities: Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh. 

Customers will pay £26 a month for SIM-only tariffs, with the upgrade providing download speeds up to five times faster.

By comparison, EE’s cheapest tariff is £15 a month for just data, and £21 a month for voice and data. However, without knowing the data caps offered by O2’s service it’s difficult to give a fair comparison between the two.

In order to tempt customers to move over to the higher speeds (and therefore increased data usage) O2 will also be offering customers a 30-day ‘happiness guarantee’, allowing them to switch back to a 3G network if unsatisfied with the new service.

O2 have also hinted that they will attempt to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering bundled media content. The company's CEO Ronan Dunne, said that customers who bought a 4G tarrif from O2 would also get a year's "free music content" - though the exact terms of this 'free' content were not given.

Vodafone and Three are also expected to introduce their own 4G services by the end of the year.Three have already promised that it will offer 4G services at no extra cost, and without customers needing to use a new SIM.