Vodafone 4G To Launch August 29 With Free Sky Sports Or Spotify

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Vodafone 4G will launch the same day as O2 4G as UK LTE battle heats up

Vodafone 4G will officially launch in the UK on 29 August, the same day as when O2 4G will go live in London, Leeds and Bradford.

The capital will be the only city to receive Vodafone 4G on launch day, but coverage will be extended to 12 more cities by the end of the year and 98 percent of the UK population by 2015.

Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield are the planned locations for 2013, although this is significantly less than the 95 towns and cities covered by the UK’s only current 4G operator, EE.

Vodafone Red 4G

Vodafone 4G bonusVodafone Red 4G plans with a handset will start from £34 a month with a two year contract and will include unlimited texts, calls and data limits of up to 8GB, with unlimited data for the first three months.

Customers with an existing Vodafone Red 3G plan and a 4G-Ready handset can upgrade for an extra £5 a month, while SIM-only plans are offered from £26 a month. As an added bonus, 4G subscribers will receive a free subscription to Spotify premium or Sky Sports Mobile TV for the life of the contrct, an incentive which the operator believes will give it an advantage over the competition.

“With 4G, speed is just the start: it’s what you do with it that really matters,” said Guy Laurence, CEO of Vodafone UK. “We are taking 4G into a new league by offering sport and changing the tune with all the music you could want. 4G is coming of age, and there’s plenty to look forward to.”

Vodafone will also offer a range of tablet deals and a 4G Mobile Wi-Fi dongle plans, but subscribers will not receive the Spotify or Sky Sports bonus.

Competitive edge

“While Vodafone has mirrored EE’s £5 monthly premium, it has managed to provide clear and tangible benefits to making the leap to 4G by offering access to Sky Sports and Spotify, two brilliant ways to truly demonstrate the value of great speeds on the move,” commented Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “EE is all but certain to win in a race of superfast speeds at the moment – particularly with its recent doubling efforts – Vodafone’s 4G plans offer the perks, price points and premium content to make it a genuinely compelling option.

“This could give it an edge on O2, who despite being first to announce its launch later this month, could be left behind in the 4G race again. All eyes will now be on it to deliver equally competitive deals and bring a truly competitive 4G service to the UK.”

iPhone bluff

Up until now, Vodafone had been vague about a specific launch date for its LTE service, promising only that it will launch “this summer.” It won £790 million worth of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum in the Ofcom 4G auction earlier this year, of which the latter band was only cleared of digital transmissions late last month.

It had been suggested that it was waiting until a new model of the iPhone was announced. The iPhone 5 is only compatible with EE 4G, which uses the 1800MHz band. A new model would presumably work on 800MHz and 2.6GHz, which would be likely to trigger a number of new 4G subscriptions.

However this has proved not to be the case and three of the UK’s four major operators will have operational 4G services by the end of the month. Three, the only one not to have announced it plans, says it will roll out LTE by the end of the year.

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