EE, the offspring of the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, will no longer be the only operator offering 4G data services, with Vodafone and O2 set to join the fray on August 29.
Three is also set to jump in later this year, which means that even though 4G coverage will be at best patchy in some areas of Lincolnshire, if you want to take advantage of higher speeds outside the county, you’ll have pick the best deal for your contract.
The 4G coverage areas
TechRadar explains that EE has 4G coverage for over 50% of the UK, covering many cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield. 24% of the UK is also eligible for EE's new double speed 4G.
When O2’s service launches on August 29, it will be covering London, Leeds and Bradford, with a total of 13 cities by the end of the year. Vodafone will launch initially in London, with 12 more UK cities to be covered before the end of 2013. Vodafone and O2 share their base stations in a cost-cutting measure.
The 4G prices and handsets
In an analysis of the three 4G networks’ offering, CNET explains that a 4G data contract will cost you slightly more than an usual 3G data contract, but you will be able to surf at higher speeds from your 4G-enabled phone or tablet at around 12-15Mbps.
The Next Web compared the price offerings and found Vodafone is cheaper or better value for money at all of its price points, starting at 2GB of data and unlimited calls and texts from £26 per month (no handset included).
Power users looking for more than 8GB of data each month will be forced to choose EE, however, which offers 8GB of data, unlimited calls and texts for £41 per month, or 20Gb for £61 per month.
In comparison, O2′s 4G SIM only plans start at £26 per month for 1GB of data, as well as unlimited calls and texts on a 12-month contract. This climbs to £31 for 5GB of data, or £36 for 8GB.
Three has yet to detail its pricing scheme for 4G contracts, but the company said it won't separate 3G and 4G price plans. This would mean a 4G data contract could start from £7 per month, if the pricing stucture is not changed when the service is launched.
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