A year ago - almost to the day - UK operator giffgaff announced plans to launch its first 4G tariffs to its customers. giffgaff is a virtual operator which uses the network of its parent company, Telefónica's O2 UK, which has been steadily growing its 4G coverage this year, but continues to lag behind that of the UK's largest network, EE.
Back in March, giffgaff announced its first 4G offerings, which have been available to purchase throughout the year as part of a long-term 'trial' ahead of a broader launch. Today, the carrier announced that it is "ready for a full scale launch of 4G" on 12 November, and unveiled three new 'goodybag' monthly price plans.
Anyone joining giffgaff from today will be able to purchase monthly 4G goodybags from £12 for 500 mins and 1GB of data, to £18 for 1000 mins and 5GB of data. All goodybags include unlimited texts. The new goodybags represent better value than the 4G offerings previously available from giffgaff; until now, the most 4G data you could hope to get was 2GB, for £15 per month.
Even so, giffgaff has still stopped well short of matching its own unlimited 3G data offering, which includes 2000 voice minutes, for £18 a month. For the foreseeable future (and for the same price), the most 4G data you'll be able to get with giffgaff is 5GB a month.
giffgaff said today that its 4G trial has been "really helpful in understanding data usage". One finding - albeit one that seems like little more than common sense - was that "when people move to 4G, they use more of the available network capacity". Since the amount of data users consume is linked to how much they pay each month, giffgaff is evidently aware that some customers may be worried that moving to 4G will result in more usage and higher prices for them.
With that in mind, giffgaff is inviting its existing customers to try out its 4G service to help "decide if it's right for you".
From 12 November 2014 to 12 January 2015, customers who were already signed up to giffgaff before today will be able to purchase special discounted goodybags, priced a few quid less than the standard ones.
There's no obligation to stick with giffgaff 4G after you've taken it for a test drive for a month or two, though. Once your discounted goodybags run out, you can either return to a 3G goodybag, or stick with 4G after 13 January 2015 (at the new monthly rates) - or, if you prefer, you can just walk away from giffgaff entirely.
Source and images: giffgaff