Vodafone’s new 4G service will be launching in the United Kingdom sooner rather than later. The mobile network operator revealed today that it is preparing for a roll-out by “late summer”, clarifying its previous position that it would be available sometime “later this year”.
Vodafone spent £790,761,000 (roughly $1.2 billion USD) to acquire a sizable chunk of spectrum during the United Kingdom’s 4G auction, held in February. Rival operators Three, O2 and EE, as well as Niche Spectrum Ventures – a subsidiary of BT – splashed out to secure a section of the all-important 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands.
EE unveiled its new 4G service last year under a new network, which shares the same name, and has been rolling it out aggressively ever since. Earlier this year it also announced ‘double-speed’ LTE in the United Kingdom, increasing its top speeds to 80 Mbps in 10 metropolitan areas. The company now hopes to hit 1 million 4G customers by the end of the year.
Vodafone opposed EE’s initial head-start, going so far as to call it “a terrible blow to competition in the UK.” Nevertheless, the company is backing its own 4G network with renewed vigour, announcing plans to boost spending on its fixed and mobile infrastructure by 50 percent.
Vodafone will spend more than £900 million ($1.37 billion USD) throughout the current financial year – more than £2.5 million ($3.8 million USD) each day – to create a “seamlessly integrated fixed and mobile network” and support the upcoming 4G roll-out.
“For consumers, it’s another important step towards the arrival of our ultra-fast 4G service later this year,” Vodafone UK CEO Guy Laurence said. “It is also great news for the country. We’re investing in vital national infrastructure that can help play an important role in supporting growth in the wider economy.”
Vodafone is yet to unveil the pricing for its new 4G services, however. EE is considerably higher than its competitors, while Three has promised that there will be no upgrade premiums on its LTE services.
If Vodafone can price its 4G services competitively, the network operator could see a fresh batch of consumer and enterprise subscribers. In the meantime, EE continues to make in-roads in the United Kingdom, snapping up users on two-year deals which will effectively lock them out of a Vodafone contract during the company’s launch later this summer.