Will you take 4G services from EE, Vodafone, O2 or Three – or none of them?
Today is a big day for 4G services in the UK, with both Vodafone and O2 joining EE in providing LTE mobile broadband, and Three promising it by December. The technology can enable much faster Internet speeds – but which operator do you think has got the best offer?
EE has a head start, having been granted permission to offer 4G on its existing spectrum last year. It took as much wind out of the newcomers’ sails as it could with a carefully timed announcement, the day before O2 and Vodafone’s big day, that it had reached more than 100 towns with its fast mobile service. But the new players intend to tempt with packages designed to keep their existing customers on board, and maybe win some new ones.
Choose your 4G provider
EE’s ten-month monopoly won it 687,000 subscribers, with a huge advertising campaign, but it was criticised for charging a premium for the use of fast broadband, and applying data caps.
Obviously its coverage is better – with 60 percent of the UK’s population in reach, while O2 has been confined to London, Leeds and Bradford for now, and Vodafone – only London.
O2 and Vodafone have attempted to undercut EE’s pricing, although to begin with, their coverage will be considerably more limited than that of the first player in the game. They have also done less to match EE’s pricing than had been hoped.
“From the initial pricing we’ve seen, Vodafone is clearly offering more value for money,” says Gartner analyst Gyanee Dewnarain. Uswitch telecom expert Ernest Doku is also not convinced by O2′s offering.
Both new arrivals are offering bundled services. EE is offering EE films, while O2 has a music, sports and gaming package – but Vodafone is offering either a bundled Sky sports Mobile subscription or the Spotify music service.
In the end, Three’s offer of free 4G may be decisive. The other operators are offering tempting deals for people who sign up early – but many of those will not be able to get 4G in their area until it rolls out there, meaning they will end up paying extra for their old service for some time. By comparison, Three’s offer sounds good – or it may just be following the only option for the last one to arrive at the ball.
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