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Vodafone in £900m 4G spending boost


Vodafone is increasing its network spending by 50% to more than £900 million this year as it prepares for the launch of super-fast mobile internet.

The mobile giant said it will inject an extra £300 million into its UK network, up from £601 million last year, under plans to launch 4G (fourth generation) mobile coverage by the end of the summer.

It will also spend more on integrating the Cable & Wireless fibre network, which it bought last year for £1 billion.

Mobile phone operators are rolling out 4G networks, which offer much faster downloads, uploads and video streaming, after an auction of spectrum or mobile airwaves by regulator Ofcom earlier this year.

Vodafone spent £802 million on buying spectrum and plans to cover 98% of the population with next-generation wireless internet by 2015.

The group will spend more on integrating its fixed and mobile infrastructure, which it said will benefit business users and consumers.

Vodafone UK chief executive Guy Laurence said: "We're bringing together the best of mobile and fixed communications to help our business customers make their communications work for them.

"For consumers, it's another important step towards the arrival of our ultra-fast 4G service later this year.

"We're investing in vital national infrastructure that can help play an important role in supporting growth in the wider economy."

Vodafone acquired a 20,500-kilometre (12,738 -mile) fibre optic network with its purchase of Cable & Wireless, and is integrating this with its network of mobile phone masts to speed up and increase coverage.

It said the integrated network will help businesses and organisations increase productivity and allow them to work from any location.

Rival network EE, which owns Orange and T-Mobile, last year launched its own 4G network after re-using some of its existing spectrum.

4G should mean five-seven times faster download speeds compared with existing 3G networks, according to Ofcom. This means downloading a music album will take around 3 minutes on a 4G phone, compared with 20 minutes on 3G. However, users will require a 4G device.

The Government raised £2.34 billion from its auction of spectrum, less than forecast.