Vodafone cool about EE's head start in 4G race

By Danny Palmer
26 Oct 2012 View Comments
A Vodafone logo

Vodafone isn't concerned about falling behind EE when it comes to providing 4G, with the firm insisting there will only be mass adoption of the service once the public understand what the new mobile service is.

EE, the joint venture of T-Mobile and Orange, was granted a licence by Ofcom to convert the existing 2G 1800MHz spectrum to 4G and will launch the network across the UK on 30 October. Other providers will need to wait for an auction to take place early next year in order to bid for a 4G licence.

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However, that doesn't worry Guy Laurence, Vodafone's head of UK business, who doesn't believe there will be a huge initial rush for 4G.

"The public will pick [4G] up when it works," he told The Financial Times.

"The average customer changes contract every two to two-and-a-half years. Currently, there are not many 4G handsets. In a year, there will be a lot. We will place it in the hands of the customers."

Once 4G is more established, Vodafone hopes to encourage customers to make the switch by buying them out of their contracts for 70 per cent of the cost, if they move to 4G.

Laurence also argues that the type of 4G coverage is going to be a key factor for customers, and that for Vodafone, the main focus will be on providing a good service in homes and workplaces.

"Indoor coverage is very important. We want to build our network on that. There is a difference between being at the leading edge and the bleeding edge," he said.

Vodafone has made no effort to hide its annoyance over the decision to award EE the licence to revamp the 2G databand into the UK's first 4G network, with senior government affairs manager Aleyne Johnson previously stating the firm was "extremely disappointed" by the decision.

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