O2 has announced its 4G switch on date, with London, Leeds and Bradford the first cities to be covered when the service launches on 29 August. Having spent nearly a full year becoming increasingly overcome with fatEEgue, O2’s announcement could not come a moment too soon.
But it is clear that the second operator to go live with superfast broadband has a lot of catching up to do – EE has already signed up 500,000 customers and its network covers 55 per cent of the population. After launch, O2 has promised 10 more cities by the end of the year: Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh.
Although O2 has announced plans to match EE’s commitment to reach 98 per cent of the population - and has highlighted that its valuable 800MHz frequency will ensure the service works ‘both indoor and outdoor’ - the company has not yet ventured a deadline for this. EE has pledged to reach 98 per cent of people by the end of 2014, and owns 36 per cent of the country's total 4G spectrum compared to O2's 15 per cent.
Tariffs will start at £26 per month – most likely a SIM-only, 500MB-data option akin to the £23 option EE introduced in May - with pay-as-you-go and business packages on the way. EE already has 2,000 UK businesses, including the likes of Renault and Ikea, on its books.
In a clear drive to differentiate itself, O2 has announced a mystery live launch performance at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to coincide with the switch on, with early-bird ticketing on offer for its Priority Moments customers. 4G customers will also be able to get a free, year-long music package when they sign up direct with O2.
O2 says it spent £550m to secure one of the highest proportions of the lowest frequency spectrum as it travels further and can move better through solid objects. Data usage by its 22.9m existing UK customers has already more than doubled in the last twelve months, the company said. EE, which formed in 2010 from Orange and T-Mobile, revealed it has 27.5m customers in its last earnings call.
Written for Mobile Marketing Magazine and published here: http://www.mobilemarketingmagazine.com/content/o2-4g-switch-29-august#bOOEGeCZ8ujVtR4b.99