Vodafone UK puts its 4G LTE cards on the table

TelecomsTech has previously reported on Everything Everywhere (EE) and O2’s 4G pushes, and wonders what the view is like from Vodafone’s tower as the provider outlines its coverage plans

Vodafone is to launch its UK 4G service on 29 August in 12 cities, following an investment of £900m in its network.

29 August, of course, is when O2 is rolling out its LTE package, leaving only Three as non-4G ready by the end of this month.

The 12 cities Vodafone will roll out 4G coverage to are London, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.

It’s not quite the 95 cities that EE already has live – you’ll have to take our word for it, although TelecomsTech reported the full list last week – although an argument is there to suggest that had 4G been that big a factor, more Vodafone/O2/Three customers would have flocked to EE.

The result is that the competition can roll out LTE relatively slowly, without fear of big downturns in subscriber base. Perhaps Ofcom was right in its auction ruling after all.

Prices for the Vodafone package start at £26 per month, the same as O2. What Vodafone hopes will seal the deal is a bundled package with either Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV.

Sound familiar? BT will hope to do a similar thing after it emerged as a surprise winner in this year’s spectrum auction, picking up two 15MHz of 2.6GHz bands and one 20MHz of 2.6GHz under the spurious name of Niche Spectrum Ventures. BT’s latest venture, BT Sport, will be offered as a freebie for those who sign up with a broadband package, with a move into the 4G space expected to happen in 2014.

“We are taking 4G into a new league by offering sport, and changing the tune with all the music you could want,” said Guy Laurence, Vodafone UK CEO in a statement, adding: “4G is finally worth getting, and there’s plenty to look forward to.”

Digging deeper into the pricing options, current customers will only have to add £5 a month to their current deal to bag 4G plus a sports or music bundle. There’s plenty of flexibility too, with device specific deals for 12, 18 or 24 months, as well as some interesting deals specific to tablets – an eight inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 with 10GB of data for £36 a month sounds very tempting.

TelecomsTech previously speculated on the prospect of a collaboration between Vodafone and O2, with a recent analyst report discussing data sharing plans between American telcos. It’s an interesting theory, especially considering the same rollout date is due to a mast-sharing deal, according to the Telegraph.

But could it happen? What do you make of Vodafone’s announcement in the meantime?

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