O2 will launch 4G services in London, Leeds and Bradford on 29 August, finally bringing competition to the market for EE.
However, hopes the firm would spark a price war have not materialised as the lowest offer from O2 will be £26 a month SIM free, compared to £21 SIM free from EE. No details on data allowances were given by O2.
Furthermore, as O2's 4G service is in the 800MHz band, customers on the iPhone 5 will not be able to use the 4G services. This could well prove an issue as EE has said 70 percent of its 4G user base are iPhone 5 users, underlining the importance of offering Apple devices to entice consumers.
O2 has already promised customers the ability to upgrade to the new iPhone on special rateswhen the new device is launched, probably late in September. This also applies to other 4G devices.
O2 said it intends to launch in a further 10 cities before the end of the year (see map below). These will be Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh.
The firm said some five million people would be covered by the network at launch, meaning the rollouts are likely to be focused around city centres, rather than wider coverage into suburbs.
O2 chief executive Ronan Dunne said the announcement was a notable step forward for the firm.
"It's great that I am able to announce O2 4G the day after the spectrum has been cleared for use. Digital connectivity will be made ubiquitous by 4G and become the oxygen of modern life," he said.
The move is also interesting as it leaves Vodafone, which is partnering with O2 on the infrastructure for their 4G networks, lagging behind, with no clear date in sight for its launch. Comments made recently by Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao seemed to hint at a 21 September launch.
Three could even beat Vodafone to market, as it will take ownership of a portion of EE's 1800MHz spectrum at the end of September and could well be live very soon after this transfer is complete.
For EE, which has been live for nine months, adding 687,000 consumers to its 4G network, the launch from O2 will finally give it some competition in the market.
EE has strived to convince customers of the merit of 4G, and it will no doubt welcome a rival to help boost the over-arching messaging around 4G.
The services are set to go live around one month after Ofcom will have cleared the final TV signals from the 800MHz spectrum, which was previously used for TV signals.
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