4G rolls out across the UK


O2, Vodafone and EE have all now launched their super-fast 4G service.

O2 customers are able to access the super speedy information highway from their smartphones in just three cities initially (London, Leeds and Bradford), while Vodafone has 4G service in London only. But both networks will extend their coverage by the end of the year.

EE's 4G service is much more comprehensive, with 105 cities already covered - with the latest additions being Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Walsall, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

4G mobile data services allow consumers to download data up to five times faster than on the 3G network. This makes it far easier to download and stream music and videos easily while on the move – a standard definition movie should take just 10 to 15 minutes to download.

EE launched 4G in the UK in October 2012 and charges from £26 a month for a two-year 4G contract or from £21 a month for a Sim-only plan. But both O2 and Vodafone have priced their 4G services at the same £26-a-month price point for basic two-year contracts, offering little competition for consumers.

That said, O2 has bundled in other perks for 4G customers, including 12 months' free music content for those who buy direct from O2, while Vodafone has partnered with music service Spotify and Sky Sports to offer added-value content to 4G customers.

Read Mark Stammers' blog: Making the most of 4G

So which contract's the best?

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said: "Vodafone's 4G plans offer the perks, price points and premium content to make it a genuinely compelling option.

"Even if Vodafone's 4G doesn't arrive at your neck of the woods to start with, the additional services are still available to those on 3G. Vodafone could well draw in customers looking for a cheap way to get Sky Sports on the go while they wait for the roll-out to reach their area. This could give it an edge on O2, which could be left behind in the 4G race again."

As more players enter the market, it is hoped that the general cost of 4G mobile will fall.

A recent Moneywise.co.uk poll revealed four-fifths of users do not currently wish to upgrade to a 4G mobile data plan.

The poll of more than 750 readers found 79% would not be upgrading to a super-fast 4G plan because they are too expensive.

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