Vodafone has announced plans to invest a further £900m in its network infrastructure in order to ensure the firm is ready to meet the expected demand for 4G services, which will be live by the end of the summer in time to capitalise on the launch of the next Apple iPhone.
The rollout schedule suggests a late August or early September launch for the services. This is quite late considering the 4G auctions were completed in February, when the firm paid £802m for spectrum.
Nevertheless, tying the switch on of its 4G network to the launch of the next iPhone should help it attract more interest from consumers, according to Ovum telecoms analyst Matthew Howett.
“EE clearly tied its launch with the availability of iPhone 5, and iPhone customers tend to be higher spenders so it makes sense to wait and tie them in together,” he told V3. “The speculation is there will be an upgrade to the device [the iPhone] around that time that will provide support not just for 4G at 1800MHZ but also 800MHz and 2.6GHz, so it makes it available to all network operators.”
Vodafone confirmed the plans as part of an announcement to invest a further £900m into its network infrastructure. This will include fixed network offerings from its £1.1bn purchase of Cable & Wireless Worldwide last year to widen its offerings to the business sector.
Vodafone 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."
Ovum’s Howett said the spend outlined by Vodafone seemed in line with what EE had spent on its network enhancement to ensure it could provide 4G services across a wide area.
“In some areas it will have already deployed the necessary technology but it will want to make sure all the towns and cities are covered in their entirety before they announce 4G is live, so extra will need to be spent to do this,” he said.
Although Vodafone may be waiting for the launch of the next iPhone, it will still face fierce competition from EE, as well as O2 and Three, which are set to have services live by around the same time and will no doubt peg their 4G launches onto the release of the new device.
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