With Three's official confirmation that it will be offering 4G for free to existing customers when it launches its next-gen network in December, we now have a clear idea of every network’s LTE plans. O2 and Vodafone have both recently launched their offerings, with EE’s service now almost one year old.
So, how does each service break down and which one should you go for? Read on to get the lowdown.
Launched this week in London, Leeds and Bradford, O2’s 4G packages offer basic deals, with charges varying depending on the device you decide to buy. As with Vodafone, O2 isn’t offering the iPhone 5 on 4G. That’s because in the 4G network, neither network won coverage in the 2600MHz range, the only LTE that Apple’s device supports. You can bet though, that the iPhone 5S will change all that. In terms of deals, O2’s prices start at £22 a month for 1GB data and unlimited calls and texts on its O2 Refresh deal. That’s before you’ve paid your monthly fee for your handset and runs over two years. Sign up before October 31st and you can get more data on its £27 and £32 month deals. Have a read here.
For SIM-only fiends, prices start at £26 for 1GB of data, rising to £36 for 8GB. Be aware that that 8GB offer drops to 5GB after October 31st. In terms of perks, O2 has a special Priority Sports channel, O2 4G Tracks for free access to Top 40 music and music videos and Gameloft games that can be played without eating into data allowances. There’s also free Wi-Fi access at 9,000 points across the UK. PAYG 4G deals are expected by the end of the year.
Vodafone’s 4G network has just launched in London, with 12 other UK towns, including Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield joining the party at the end of the year.
Its 12-month Red SIM-only deals kick off at £26 a month of 2GB data, a better deal than O2, especially as that includes six months of either Spotify or Sky Sports TV Mobile chucked in. Prices go up to £31 for 4GB and £36 for 8GB.
If you don’t already have a 4G phone, you can pick up a Samsung Galaxy S4 with unlimited calls and texts, 2GB data and the same Spotify or Sky perk for £38 a month. Vodafone has a better range of 4G devices on offer, which you can check out now on its site. The network is also offering unlimited data for the first three months of a contract.
Voda does appear to have the edge on O2 when it comes to data allowances and perks, although with both companies sharing base stations, you can expect similar coverage on each.
Three has reiterated that it will not charge existing customers with 4G ready phones anything extra for the privilege of using its next-gen network. There’s no need for a new SIM, with a software rollout ensuring that customers are upgraded. Perhaps best of all, it says it will continue to serve up all you can eat data, a huge plus considering rival carriers are limiting data over 4G.
Three’s service will begin to rollout on an as-yet-unspecified date in December in London, Birmingham and Manchester, before hitting 50 towns and cities by the end of 2014. Three says it’ll have 98% of the population covered by late 2015.
EE’s been in the 4G game for a year now and it shows. It’s just announced Accrington as its 100th 4G town in the UK, storming ahead of its rivals in the process. Its total 4G coverage is expected to be 98% by the end of 2014.
It’s also recently doubled its 4G speeds to around 60MB/second and is offering extra data to those who sign up before September 30th, at no extra cost. It means its £26 a month two year deal will snag you 1GB instead of 500MB data, with £51 a month contracts seeing their allowance quadruple to 20GB.
In terms of handsets, EE has a superb selection, including the HTC One for free on a two year deal. That’s certainly not to be sniffed at. The full range can be seen on its website.
EE is also selling the iPhone 5, unlike Vodafone and O2, although with the device set to be superseded soon, it may be worth holding fire before buying one. Perks-wise, you’ll be part of Orange Wednesdays and get access to 99p films every Thursday. We’d say that Vodafone holds the edge here, but if you’re a movie buff, you could do a lot worse.
Which network do you think has the best 4G proposition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.