O2 confirm 4G launch in UK

O2 confirm 4G launch in UK

We all knew it was coming but, with EE stealing a March on their competitors, the other networks were keeping exact launch dates close to their chests.

O2 appear to have broken ranks and is prepping for a launch on August 29th.

Initially it’ll only be available in three cities – London, Leeds and Bradford – but there’ll be 10 cities by the end of the year. Obviously this is a lot less than EE because of the head start they achieved.

Details are a bit thin on the ground currently. We know that the cheapest O2 4G tariff will cost £26 a month, but we don’t exactly know what you’ll be getting for that as yet.

O2 are already facing up to the fact that current iPhone users won’t be able to use their 4G network, plus it’ll be slower than the “double speed” areas where competitor EE use their greater bandwidth slice to offer faster speeds.

Why won’t the iPhone work on O2 4G? Well, current models only support 4G on 850mhz, 1800mhz and 2100mhz. O2 are going to be pumping out 4G at 800Mhz. Apple will no doubt address this in future models, but to keep existing owners happy O2 are offering a price promise to those who’ve recently bought an iPhone on the network.

O2 confirm 4G launch in UK
Another hot topic is data limits. O2, like EE, will charge a premium for 4G plans and there won’t be any unlimited plans. If you’re an O2 customer wanting to switch up to 4G but want to keep your phone then O2 state that this won’t affect your existing contact length, but you will have to pay that but extra for the privilege of being on 4G.

By the end of the year O2 are planning to add Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh to their 4G coverage. They’re aiming for 98% of the population by the end of 2015.

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  • the_prof

    Sounds like Vodafone is in the same position – what ever happened to the O2/Voda conglomerate that was going to happen?

    I have an iPhone on Vodafone, which means I’ll be in the same boat as the O2 customers (800Mhz thing). I have another year and a bit before my contract is up, and I’ve been offered to change my contract when 4G becomes available too, but I’m still not entirely sure why I’d bother doing so, as their 4G network will probably be pretty poor until well into 2015.

    From the results of the 4G licence auction, I’d say Vodafone has the greatest potential slice of the 4G pie, at least from a potential coverage and performance point of view. They own three (big) slices of the 2.6GHz band, and two (also big) slices of the 800MHz band. From a technical standpoint, it means that were they to use all of their potential ‘bandwidth’, you could benefit from good penetrative reception (a-la 800MHz band), massive performance (via 2.6GHz), so technically they should have the best coverage overall.

    By contrast, O2 only have two 10MHz slices of the 800MHz band. Of the available spectrum, 800MHz is the one to have, but O2 have such a small slice of it comparatively. The 2.6GHz spectrum is much higher capacity (i.e. can carry more users at a time), so whilst it’s actually less useful most of the time, in densely populated cities such as London, 2.6GHz will be almost essential. This makes me wonder if O2 will eventually reallocate some of their 2G spectrum as 4G, just to keep up with the others.

    Three appear to have done fairly well, and will be able to offer decent 4G speeds, but I think their 3G coverage is still a key advantage for them, given that they can still technically keep up with 4G to a point. Their back-end data network appears to be superior to most too.

    I’m certainly not going to be spending any money on getting 4G until things have played out a bit I think.