Vodafone announces 4G launch in UK

image captionVodafone's 4G service will be available to customers in London from 29 August

Vodafone has revealed that it will launch its 4G service on 29 August to customers in London after investing £900m in the network.

It will roll out to 12 other cities including Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield by the end of the year, the firm said.

Prices for customers will begin at £26 per month for a SIM only deal with a 12-month contract.

Last week O2 announced plans to launch its own 4G service on the same day.

O2's lowest tariff is also £26 per month. EE, the first network to offer the faster mobile internet service, has a base tariff of £21 per month.

Three has said it plans to launch a fourth 4G network before the end of the year.

Bundled content

Vodafone has partnered with the music service Spotify and TV channel Sky Sport for its launch, to offer additional content to its 4G customers.

It is also providing unlimited data-use within the UK for the first three months of contracts, but otherwise imposes the maximum of an eight gigabyte cap. Vodafone said this would help customers pick the right data plan.

Consumer groups have been critical about the fact that only Three has committed itself to offering unlimited data as a long-term option.

All the networks took part in an auction run by regulator Ofcom to buy parts of the 4G spectrum earlier this year.

media caption4G

At the time Ofcom's chief executive Ed Richards described the sale as "a positive outcome for competition" in the UK.

"4G coverage will extend far beyond that of existing 3G services, covering 98% of the UK population indoors - and even more when outdoors - which is good news for parts of the country currently underserved by mobile broadband," he said.

Both EE and Vodafone purchased bands in the 2.6GHz range as well as the 800MHz part of the radio spectrum. O2 only bought bands in the lower range.

The 2.6GHz bands delivers faster speeds but across smaller distances. The 800MHz bands - previously used by the TV signals - are best for providing long-distance 4G services and indoor coverage.

"It's not just about speed issue but also capacity," Matthew Howett, an analyst at the telecoms consultancy Ovum, told the BBC earlier.

"The higher frequency spectrum effectively has fatter pipes - you can get more data through them.

"When lots of people are using 4G to do things like streaming high definition video, it's important not just to have the availability of the signal but also that the pipe is wide enough to carry all that traffic."

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