Vodafone will launch 4G services on 29 August, the same day as O2, with the service planned to go live in London first, before reaching 12 more cities by the end of the year. Pricing will start at £26, the same as O2 recently announced and will offer 2GB of data.
By contrast, EE's 4G services start from £21 for 500MB of data. Vodafone is offering a number of perks to its deals, though, including unlimited data use for the first three months of their contracts and access to either 20 million Spotify songs or 150 hours of Sky Sports access.
The service will be live in Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield by the end of the year, Vodafone said. No specific speeds were given for the new network, but they would be six times faster than current 3G offerings.
The firm also touted a range of business packages under its Red Business offering, with services to share data allowances. A small business package offering between one and four users 4G services starts at £21 for a 12-month SIM-only deal.
Vodafone chief executive Guy Laurence said that businesses stood to benefit massively from the rollout and the plans, by being able to improve productivity.
“Businesses of every shape and size need to be able to get online when they want and how they want. Even the smallest business user has multiple devices that they want to use to access crucial information.
“We’re all about helping businesses find better ways of working and our ultrafast 4G service is arriving at a time when organisations need to respond to growing economic pressures and increasing customer expectations."
However, Kester Mann, senior analyst with CCS Insight, said the rollout announcement from Vodafone was “disappointing" for several reasons and could drive more enterprises to EE.
“The slow pace of rollout is disappointing for an operator that has always prided itself on the coverage and quality of its network. The low-key introduction by its rivals is a major boost to EE, which will maintain 4G network leadership for the foreseeable future," he said.
"The leisurely rollout is particularly disappointing for Vodafone’s ambitions in the enterprise market. EE is making impressive progress targeting this sector, which was previously dominated by Vodafone and O2."
Customers will not be able to use the iPhone 5 on Vodafone’s 4G services either. This is because it does not support the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands Vodafone bought in the 4G auction for £790m back in February.
Both Vodafone and O2 will be confident that the new iPhone from Apple rectifies this, as the device will be central to their success in selling the network. EE has already said 70 percent of its customer base on 4G uses the iPhone 5.
Last week O2 announced its plans for 4G services, revealing that it would be live on 29 August with tariffs starting from £26. O2 gave no more details, but did tell V3 that the entry level tariff would have more than 500MB of data.
The entry of Vodafone and O2 to the market will bring competition to the market for EE, which has been the only operator selling services since it went live last year. To date it has 687,000 customers on the network, and many business customers too.
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