Ok, so now we have heard from all four big UK networks about their 4G plans. EE, Vodafone and O2 are live now and Three will follow in December. So which of the quartet has got the best deal. Here is a quick round up.
Best 4G prices
Three of the four networks have pitched their 4G offerings at around the same price, they all start at £26 a month and then go up to £51 a month from EE if you want an awful lot of data.
If you do start at the bottom and pay £26 per month for a SIM-only package at present EE limits users to 1GB of data a month. O2 is the same. Vodafone has a 2GB cap. Vodafone is also a little more generous in its data offering in other packages than O2.
EE has some high-end packages if you pay £44 a month you get 10GB of data is on offer, or if you fancy 20GB that will set you back £51pm – both deals include a handset. O2′s top-end SIM-only deal is £36 a month for which you get a hefty 5GB of data – EE has a SIM-only deal at a similar price.
With O2 you can also supercharge the data package with each additional 500MB costing £6 per month, or £10 a month for each additional 1GB.
As for Three, it is a simple upgrade process for existing customers who are on their 3G service. In theory you can get 4G via Three on the Huawei Ascend P2 is which is 4G compatible and that sells for £20 per month. In a major plus on Three you also get unlimited data. If you just want a SIM only then Three’s base SIM-only tariff starts at £6.90 per month and gives you 500MB of data.
Overall then the price structure is fairly competitive. Three is the most generous in its data offering with its unlimited data which makes it very attractive.
Best 4G coverage
There’s not a huge difference here between O2 and Vodafone as they share the same network. And both go live on 29th August in London with Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield will all live by the end of the year. The plan is for 98 percent coverage across the UK by the end of 2015.
Meanwhile EE already has 4G coverage for over 60% of the UK including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Three has announced that its 4G services will kick off in December with a roll out in London, Birmingham and Manchester. It promises to have 4G live in 50 cities by the end of 2014 and as much as 98 percent of the population could have 4G via Three by the end of 2015.
Best 4G speed
Vodafone and O2 are offering speeds of around 25Mbps. 4G in this speed is also available from EE in 50% of the UK.
About a quarter of the UK (12 cities including London, Birmingham and Cardiff) can also access EE’s new double speed 4G which offers speeds of up to 80mbps at full capacity. We don’t know yet what Three’s 4G speed will be when it launches in December.
Voda has a great selection with a choice of free Spotify Premium or free Sky Sports Mobile TV (which features all the sports channels and includes live Premiership football.) EE has free cinema tickets via its Orange Wednesday promotion plus either a Deezer music subscription, a games offering or a TV selection that includes ITV and Channel Four. More details here. O2 has 4G Music Tracks which offers playlist, video and Top 40 streaming free for 12 months. Or for sports fans exclusive NBA and rugby content. Gamers can access Gameloft mobile titles including Asphalt 8: Airborne, Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour and Zombiewood multiplayer over 4G without eating into their data allowances.
At the present time Three hasn’t announced its add-ons.
EE has a strong selection with the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and the iPhone 5, Blackberry Q5, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820 and Nokia Lumia 625 all included.
As for Vodafone it offers the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and S4 mini) HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, Blackberry Q10, BlackBerry Z10, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 925 and Nokia Lumia 625.
O2 has gone with the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and S4 mini) HTC One, Sony Xperia Z, Sony Xperia SP, Blackberry Q10, BlackBerry Z10, Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820, Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 925 and Nokia Lumia 625.
Three has among others the HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S4 and the Apple iPhone 5.
The only significant difference is that if you want a 4G iPhone 5 then you have to go with EE or Three.
If you want a basic 4G package - then Three with is flexibility and unlimited data is the place to start. of the other three Voda shades it for now with its more generous data allowance and excellent Sky and Spotify freebies.
If you want a top-end package - Then it has to be EE which has faster speeds and a top-end package with a ridiculous amount of data.
If you want a 4G iPhone 5 - Then it has to be EE or Three. Neither O2 or Voda are offering a 4G version of the Apple phone.