UK LTE tussle begins in earnest
O2’s 800MHz offering is available in London and the central Northern cities of Leeds and Bradford, reaching “up to five million people,” the firm said. It intends to add an additional ten cities in England and Scotland by the end of this year.
Meanwhile Vodafone has switched on only in London, pledging to add 12 cities by the year end. The network sharing arrangement between the two operators means that their LTE coverage expansion plans are closely tied.
The UK’s two remaining operators, 3UK and EE, piped up to remind the market of their own plans and achievements. EE attempted to steal Vodafone and O2’s thunder by announcing on Wednesday that it has delivered LTE coverage to 100 UK towns, while 3UK was restricted to making promises about its future LTE service.
The UK’s smallest and most disruptive network operator will not make LTE available until December, but has pledged that users will be charged no premium for the superior service and will continue to be allowed unlimited data consumption.
Informa forecasts that EE’s early lead in LTE will be comprehensively consolidated over the next five years, with the Orange and T-Mobile JV streaking ahead to dominate the UK LTE market. By 2018, according to figures from WCIS Plus, EE will have almost 18 million LTE subscriptions, accounting for more than half the overall UK LTE market.