4G UK: Vodafone delays its launch until "end of summer"

It’s been eight months since EE announced its plans to launch the UK’s first 4G mobile services, and almost seven months since those services finally launched. Since then, the company has aggressively expanded its 4G footprint, as it works towards its target of 98% national coverage by the end of next year. But EE still has the monopoly on 4G in the UK, and now one of its largest potential competitors has confirmed that it has delayed the launch of its 4G service.

Vodafone’s chief executive, Vittorio Colao, told The Guardian that his company now plans to launch its competing service later in the year, but suggested that it would be worth the wait. “We are convinced our own 4G will be better performing,” he said. “We want to be able to launch it when it’s really ready. End of the summer means when there is going to be a good commercial window for launching it.”

It’s likely no coincidence that Vodafone is holding off on launching its 4G service since it’s currently unable to offer a 4G version of the ever-popular Apple iPhone. The iPhone 5 that its rival EE offers on its 4G network was specially developed by Apple to work on the 1800MHz band, which EE converted to 4G operations from surplus 3G capacity on its Orange and T-Mobile networks.

Vodafone acquired spectrum in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands in the 4G auction in February, and with a new iPhone due later this year, it makes more sense to wait for it to launch with compatibility for those bands, rather than to work with Apple on converting the current iPhone so soon before its replacement arrives. 

The company launched five Windows Phone 8 handsets earlier this year, and reiterated its commitment to the platform with the 4G Lumia 925; Vodafone was the carrier partner that Nokia invited to help launch its new thin and light aluminium flagship, and will exclusively offer the 32GB version of the handset, with other carriers initially limited to the 16GB version. 

Source: The Guardian | Image via Vodafone

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5 Comments

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I think it probably is coincidence that the iPhone doesn't support the 4G bands. What would they gain by not providing 4G for anyone with Galaxy S4s and the Nokias, amongst others, which will massively outnumber the iPhone buyers?
Surely if they were ready for 4G launch they would build up their 4G user-base now and then add the new iPhone to the lineup when it's available.

Simple answer: money. If you have a current iPhone you can't ever use 4G on Vodaphone. Therefore you need to sign up for a new 2 year contract with a new one. The quote says there is a "good commercial window" later in the year.

in central london vodafone is ****ing ****, these upgrades had better be worth it.

also, will the iPhone support multiple bands going forward, or will we be back to GSM vs CDMA crap again? and having to make sure you buy the right handset for your region / network... *sigh*