United Kingdom citizens, your long wait for LTE service is finally over... assuming you haven't gotten fed up and switched to EE already. Vodafone and O2, half of the UK's "big four" wireless providers, have both switched on their 4G/LTE networks today. Vodafone's LTE network is limited to London at the moment, while O2's network fares slightly better with a rollout to London, Leeds, and Bradford.

EE has had a de facto monopoly on LTE/4G in the UK (none of the carriers across the pond ever muddied the "4G" name with HSPA service, so the terms are interchangeable) since October of last year thanks to the government's spectrum licensing. Other carriers have had to buy spectrum from EE at auction, which puts them at a significant disadvantage in both time and geographical coverage. EE already has 4G service in over 100 markets in the UK, and wireless carrier Three isn't planning a 4G deployment until December, using leased spectrum from EE.


As usual, both Vodafone and O2 will be offering various tiers of service at various prices, and the UK carriers are charging a premium for LTE service. Plans on Vodafone start at £26 a month for 2GB of data (above) with unlimited text messages and voice minutes. O2 plans start at £26 a month for 1GB (below) with the same unlimited talk and data terms. Both carriers will sell you new phones at full price or monthly installments, and they have been stocking LTE-equipped phones like the Galaxy S4, HTC One, and the Sony Xperia Z for months. O2 will also be offering the Nexus 7 LTE starting on September 12th. Alternately, customers should be able to bring use any international LTE phone with LTE SIM cards from EE, Vodafone, or O2.


At the moment EE offers the widest LTE network in the country, but it's also the most expensive, with the lowest-priced £26 plan offering only 500MB of data. Vodafone, O2, and Three will be expanding their networks over the coming months and years.

Source: Vodafone, O2

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Ivan Myring

    So, if O2 has 4G, how long till GiffGaff gets it? Though I'm switching to 3.

    • Steve Williamson

      not sure but I hear threeUK will be launching in November their 4g (regardless of what it says in the artcile)

    • NoUsernamesFree

      o2 have said that GiffGaff are welcome to use their network, but GiffGaff have yet to decide to take them up on the offer as fair as I'm aware. I guess it'll be a while before they get B2B contract terms negotiated and finalised, and only then will GiffGaff begin announcing pricing schemes.

      • dave

        02 have not said that, 02 are getting their own 4g off the ground, 02 will ensure that giffgaff charges a high rate for 4g

    • Hal Motley

      Apparently 3 are offering the lowest 4G rates. Much like you I am waiting until GiffGaff gets it, but it shouldn't be too long considering it uses the O2 infrastructure.

      • dave

        giffgaff wont have 4g for ages and they use 95 percent of o2s signal

    • jimmy

      I read awhile back that 3 were not going to charge any more for 4g than 3g and also they will allow unlimited data not these out of date low data caps. Even if they do charge more i imagine it'll be less than everyone else.

    • dave

      id think very carefully before switching to 3

      • Ivan Myring

        I have already switched, and am enjoying 20Mb/s speeds

  • NoUsernamesFree

    "Other carriers have had to buy spectrum from EE at auction" - the auction was conducted by Ofcom, not EE.

    • http://www.radioshak.co.uk Shakil Shaikh

      >... wireless carrier Three isn't planning a 4G deployment until December,
      using leased spectrum from EE.

      This isn't true either. Three have their own spectrum (even though it used to be owned by EE).

    • myrna652

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  • Adrian

    I'm currently on Vodafone here in the UK, just to note that VF are also offering Spotify and Skysports as an incentive to lure customers to their 4G tarrifs.

    O2 are offering the UK Top 40 tracks free for 12 months (providing you get a contract direct from them and non - O2 Sales channel)

    • dave

      wow, top 40 tracks for free

  • http://www.a1comms.co.uk/ A1 Comms

    Possibly the network to watch is 3 as they are going to be offering unlimited data deals on their 4G plans and be very competitive compared to the other networks that are currently starting to roll out 4G.