Tesco launches U.K. 4G plans, for just £2.50 a month extra

Competition is growing among U.K. mobile providers keen to encourage users to upgrade to 4G LTE services. After EE had the market to itself for almost a year, its rivals at Vodafone and O2 announced their competing services a few weeks ago, and now Tesco Mobile has launched its offering too.

While other operators are charging considerable premiums to sign up to 4G – including requiring customers to sign up for a new contract – Tesco has streamlined its offering, making it flexible, easy to understand and relatively affordable for potential customers.

To get access to 4G speeds, customers are asked only to pay an extra £2.50 per month on top of standard 3G tariff. The 4G element of the plan can be added or removed at any time. Tesco’s family of awkwardly named ‘Flexi-bendi’ 4G tariffs also permit users to increase or decrease their data allowance at any time, with up to 8GB month available.

Tesco Mobile doesn’t have its own mobile network like Vodafone and EE though; instead, it’s a virtual operator (known as an MVNO) that uses O2’s physical network for its services.

For a heavy mobile user on O2, a £47.00 per month two-year plan will get you a Nokia Lumia 925 with no upfront cost, including unlimited minutes and texts and 5GB of data (8GB a month only if you purchase before 31 October); on Tesco, you’ll pay £47.50 a month for 3000 minutes, 5000 texts and 8GB of data, including the 'free' Lumia 925. A similar deal on the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini on O2 is £6.50 a month cheaper on Tesco Mobile.

Once O2’s launch promotion ends on 31 October, Tesco Mobile’s prices will offer a good deal more value than those of the operator that owns its physical network. This, combined with the greater flexibility that Tesco has built into its plans, makes its offering a welcome addition to the U.K. mobile landscape.

Unfortunately, Tesco’s reliance on the O2 network means that it is constrained by the progress of O2’s 4G rollout. The company’s 4G services are still limited to only a handful of cities, including London, Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool and Sheffield.

The Three network is expected to shake up 4G competition even further when it launches its LTE services in the U.K. in December. Three has promised to charge no additional premiums for 4G compared with its existing 3G tariffs, and will also continue to offer mobile plans with genuinely unlimited data allowances.

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13 Comments

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I'm on Tesco (£10 a month, 500mins, 5000texts, 1.2Gb) sim only contract but 4G really is useless at the moment.

Until it's as reliable (if not more) than 3G then it's nothing to get excited about. Yes if you live in the centre of London or Birmingham then that's great... but I don't.
Plus, they really should fix the patchy 3G areas before rolling this out to get everyone up to the same standard, then progress.
Feel bad for those in rural areas.

Plus, my phone isn't LTE anyway!

I don't understand how people in the USA and UK aren't up in arms about their ****ty pricing. You pay extra for 4G? It's just another network.

Well 3 UK at least don't charge extra for 4G, which I think is cool. I've heard their coverage can be a bit patchy but I'm debating switching to them from Vodafone because I don't want any of the other crap they're trying to bundle with their 4G (sports etc.)

I'm with Three. Coverage is flaky in certain places indoors. They will, however, send out a femtocell rather easily. Outside, however, it's perfect. When I was with O2 I could barely load half a song on Spotify - on Three I can watch entire films on Netflix!

If previous experience is anything to go by, 4G on tesco (O2) will be extremely slow and nowhere near 4g speeds.

Saying that, currently on three I get 21meg during the Day and according to their website , if you currently get 12meg on 3G you'll get 14meg on 4G ???

Not sure why I'd need more than 21 meg anyway on a mobile device

Keep waiting until Three launch their 4G. They'll end up wiping the floor with the other networks considering how much they're ripping you off. giffgaff's the only other network that could compete with Three's offering, but it'll still probably cost a fair bit more.

Yep. Three are offering (sim only) truly unlimited 4G for £15 a month.

It amazes me how this technology could be seen (as three see it) as in investment to reduce long term running costs, yet most networks just see it as a way of squeezing more money out of people. 1GB will cost less on 4G than 3G, so why do they charge more?

Bit like how in america you pay to RECEIVE text messages, if they can squeeze more out of you, they will.

Giffgaff runs off O2 network as well and this is subject to their filtering (which you have to jump through hoops to disable)...

Plus, you should be able to ask in a 3 store for the reduced rate SIM-only deal: sign up for a year minimum (not unreasonable) and pay only £12.95 a month.

Edited by mrbester, Oct 21 2013, 6:49pm :

mrbester said,
Giffgaff runs off O2 network as well and this is subject to their filtering (which you have to jump through hoops to disable)...

But giffgaff set their own prices, so while O2 charge 25p a minute, 12p a text, and £1 a day for data (that's their cap and they charge £3 per MB), giffgaff charge 10p a minute, 6p a text, and 20p a day for data (20MB then you pay 20p per MB). That means giffgaff's 4G offering could be fairly competitive. It's a safe assumption it'll be cheaper than all of the big networks, except for Three.

Giffgaff doesn't just 'run' on the o2 network, it is a 100% owned subsidery of o2, pretty much o2 without any customer service.

n_K said,
Giffgaff doesn't just 'run' on the o2 network, it is a 100% owned subsidery of o2, pretty much o2 without any customer service.

Yep, pretty much. Well, no phone customer service; it's all online on their website, and a lot of the support is handled by the community members. They're pretty generous with payback when training yourself to become an approved helper; I've earned £11 in payback so far just from passing all the tests they've put up so far!