Vodafone leaps into 4G fray with London launch set for this month

The telco has decided to launch its own LTE network on the same day as rival O2's.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Let 4G battle commence: Vodafone has chosen the same day as rival O2 to launch its 4G network.

The mobile operator said on Wednesday that, like O2, it will set its LTE network live on 29 August.

Vodafone's rollout will kick off in London, with 12 more cities slated to get LTE coverage before the end of year: Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield.

By the end of 2015, it aims to have 'in-building' LTE coverage of 98 percent of the population.

Vodafone's cheapest 4G plan for smartphones will be a 12-month SIM-only tariff with 2GB of mobile data, priced at £26 a month. The most expensive plan comes in at £57 with 8GB of mobile data, with an LTE handset included.

Vodafone will launch its 4G network with smartphones including Nokia's Lumia 925, Samsung's Galaxy S4 and the BlackBerry Z10. There's no iPhone 5, however, as Vodafone's network uses the 800MHz spectrum, which isn't supported by the Apple device.

The company is hoping to differentiate its LTE offerings from rivals' using content packages from Sky and Spotify: depending on the package, subscribers will get Sky Sports Mobile TV or Spotify Premium included as part of their tariff for up to 12 months.

Along with mobile plans, the operator will be selling a range of data-only packages for tablets and dongles, which come without Spotify or Sky included.

SIM-only 30-day plans start at £20 for 4GB of data or £30 for 10GB. Equivalent 12-month plans with a dongle included, with an upfront cost of £9 and £29 respectively. There are also plans with other hardware on offer, including a Galaxy Tab 3 with 4GB of data for £31 a month, or for £42 with 10GB of data.

The Newbury-based operator said earlier this year that it had doubled its planned infrastructure spend for this year to £900m, although hasn't detailed how much of that will be devoted purely to the 4G rollout.

Until this month, EE was the only operator to offer nationwide LTE coverage. It launched its network in October last year, and now has over half a million customers on 4G. Coverage extends to 95 towns and cities across the UK.

When O2's LTE network goes live later this month, it will cover just three cities, but will be extended to 12 more before the year's end.

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