With O2 and Vodafone set to launch their 4G networks on the 29th of August there’s finally going to be some real 4G competition in the UK, but which network is set to come out on top and which is trailing behind? Read on to find out.
4GEE vs O2 4G vs Vodafone Red 4G – The Initial Battle
With a head start of almost a year EE have now brought 4G coverage to nearly 60% of the UK, with 95 towns and cities covered in all. That gives them an obvious coverage advantage over O2, who will be launching in London, Leeds and Bradford, with plans to expand to Birmingham, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh by the end of the year. Not only will that leave O2 with far less coverage than EE in the short term but the rate of O2’s expansion also looks set to be slower than EE’s, based on where they plan to be by the end of the year.
Vodafone are in a similar position, as they plan to launch in London on the 29th before expanding to Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield by the end of the year. In other words four months after launch both O2 and Vodafone will have switched 4G on in 13 cities, which is some way shy of the 95 towns and cities EE currently covers.
EE are likely to be able to provide faster 4G connections than the competition too as already they have doubled the speed in 15 cities. However, theoretically Vodafone will be able to offer the best indoor coverage, as they have access to more 2.6 GHz spectrum than anyone else and that’s particularly good at passing through walls.
4GEE vs O2 4G vs Vodafone Red 4G – Pricing Battle
Another major factor is price and in that area Vodafone look the most appealing, offering more data for your money at most price points than either EE or O2. EE and O2 seem to offer broadly similar pricing, though EE have more tariffs available overall and a few at slightly better value than O2, leaving O2 in last place for price. You may like to read : EE, Vodafone and O2 4G Tariffs Compared.
4GEE vs O2 4G vs Vodafone Red 4G – Phones and Add On Battle
All three networks currently offer a similar number of 4G-ready handsets. Vodafone and EE both offer 15, while O2 offers 12 and they all have most of the major players such as the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Nokia Lumia 925. However only EE currently has a 4G-ready iPhone, which until the next model arrives, gives them a huge advantage.
Each of the networks has their own perks above and beyond a phone and 4G coverage. Vodafone are offering a choice of Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile to customers who take out a 4G contract. Either way it’s a good value bonus as Spotify Premium normally costs £9.99 a month, while Sky Sports Mobile is usually £4.99 a month. Vodafone also give customers access to BT Wi-Fi hotspots and ‘5 Star Care’ which includes things like a free courtesy phone if yours needs repairing and the chance to upgrade at least 60 days early.
O2 gives 4G customers access to ‘O2 Tracks’ which lets users listen to music from the top 40 singles chart, view music videos and listen to other playlists. There’s also a ‘Priority Sports’ app which lets users view sports and fitness videos and O2 customers will be able to play select Gameloft games over 4G without using any of their data allowance. Of course O2 also have a network of Wi-Fi hotspots and give all of their customers’ access to ‘Priority Moments’ which includes exclusive deals and offers for various stores, websites and restaurants.
Finally, EE give 4G customers access to both BT and Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots – which includes access on the London Underground. They also offer 2-for-1 cinema tickets every Wednesday. Customers on higher price plans will additionally have a choice of access to music streaming through Deezer; two free game downloads each month or access to EE Mobile TV, which usually costs £8.99 a month.
All three networks offer a reasonable selection of extras, but in terms of sheer value for money we’d say that O2’s offering is the worst.
4GEE vs O2 4G vs Vodafone Red 4G – Winner of the Battle
Based on the data we have so far EE’s position looks the strongest, thanks to a compelling combination of extensive coverage, iPhone 5 support and decent extras. Vodafone look set to be a close second due to competitive pricing, a similarly impressive selection of extras and potentially very strong indoor coverage.
O2 on the other hand really look to be facing an uphill struggle thanks to high prices, little coverage and few compelling reasons to pick them over the competition.
You may also like to read : EE, Vodafone and O2 4G Tariffs Compared
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