Tuesday, 13 August 2013

4G: Who's side are you on?

For the last 10 months or so, EE has held the market on 4G in the UK. It was unsurprising really, merging Orange and T-Mobile together has given EE the biggest network, the largest user base and the biggest bank account. They paid the most at the 4G spectrum auction and have reaped the benefits of exclusivity.

But all that is about to change. On August 29th, Vodafone and O2 will launch their 4G services and finally being some well needed competition to the super fast mobile Internet market.

So what can we expect? Well, both Voda and O2 will initially launch their 4G services in London, expanding out to cover most of the major cities by the end of the year. Both intend on having 4G indoor coverage for 98% of the population by the end of 2015 and both want to give EE a good spanking in the sales wars. 

O2 and Vodafone have lost a lot of business to EE over the last 10 months with those who want the super fast connections and are impatient about it jumping ship quite rapidly.

The selection of phones and price plans will determine the winner of this latest round of technical one-upmanship. O2 haven't released their 4G price plans yet, but Vodafone have, so here is an example I've found based on a new 4G connection with the Samsung Galaxy S4 4G:

On EE, a Samsung Galaxy S4, with unlimited texts and minutes and 2gb of data will cost you £41 per month over 24 months and set you back £19.99 for the phone itself.

For the same offering on Vodafone 4G, you will get the phone for free, pay £38 a month over 24 months and you get a choice of 6 months of Sky Sports mobile or 6 months of Spotify premium for free. For free.

That's a big difference in my eyes. It may only be £3 a month on the price plan but that's £72 over the term of the contract, and nothing for the phone so that's a saving of £92 going with Vodafone before you even factor in the 6 month bonus.

It's also worth remembering that O2 are doing their refresh programme too, which allows you to pay off your handset and upgrade at any point in the contract period. Depending on what their 4G price plans look like, they could smash both Vodafone and EE out of the marketplace.

I've used 4G on EE very briefly and while it was impressively fast, I'm not sure how essential it is right now. For my needs, it's not that essential, but I can see why some people would like it. By the time my next upgrade is due I'll be moving onto 4G so I can report back on my findings then. 

Meanwhile, I just want to sit back and see that cat that's being like a dog chase Kevin Bacon down the street...


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