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Summary:

EE has enjoyed a de facto monopoly on 4G in the UK since last year, but Vodafone looks set to offer higher data caps and attractive extras when it joins the party later this month.

Vodafone racecar

Vodafone has finally revealed its 4G launch plans for the UK, and it seems the British-based operator will be offering a much better deal than key rival EE.

EE has until now been the only major UK operator to launch 4G, due to its ability to reuse some of its old 2G voice-and-text spectrum. Its plans start at £21 ($32.50) per month, but that SIM-only comes with a measly 500MB — not much when high connection speeds encourage more data use. Vodafone’s starter tariff is priced at £26, but it comes with a 2GB cap while EE’s £26-a-month tariff tops out at just 1GB.

We still don’t know what cap O2 will apply to its starter tariff (also £26 a month), but even if it decides to match Vodafone’s offer, Vodafone is also offering its 4G customers a choice of free Spotify Premium or free Sky Sports Mobile TV. (In fairness, EE does offer the music streaming service Deezer as part of its package, although Deezer arguably doesn’t have the brand recognition in the UK that Spotify does.)

Voda’s 4G services will go live on 29 August, the same day as O2 turns its LTE network on, in London. By the end of the year Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield will all be live too, and Vodafone says it will achieve 98 percent indoor coverage across the UK by the end of 2015.

Finally, the UK 4G market is about to become properly competitive. All that's left is for O2 to detail its terms a bit more fully, and for fourth player Three to lay its cards on the table.

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that EE’s starter package was priced at £26, when it is in fact £21 a month.

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  1. Correction: Vodafone’s £26 tariff is SIM only; EE’s cheapest is £21 a month. EE also comes with a subscription to Deezer, which is similar to the Spotify offer.

    1. Thanks – fixed.

  2. £26 per month for 2GB is hardly attractive. What users really want is an uncapped tariff of the type currently offered by Three on 3G.

    Given the choice between a fast 4G service with a data cap and a slightly slower 3G service without data cap, I would naturally select the latter.

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