Vodafone and O2 have begun rolling out 4G [LTE] mobile data services in three UK cities.
O2's services currently include London, Leeds and Bradford, while Vodafone is restricting coverage to parts of London for now.
Vodafone's service was originally meant to launch earlier this summer, but was delayed when the company was unable to overcome the technical restrictions affecting the portion of the mobile data spectrum it secured at Ofcom's auction in February 2013.
This setback, coupled with O2's delays in rolling out its offering, gave rival provider EE 10 months of unchallenged dominance of the 4G data sector.
EE's headstart was due to obtaining permission from Ofcom to repurpose existing spectrum back in September 2012.
The companies' schemes, both currently aimed squarely at the consumer market, include a £26 a month tariff for 1GB of 4G data with O2 - which includes free music for 12 months - while Vodafone is offering 2GB for £26 a month. EE is currently asking £41 a month for 2GB.
Computing reported back in April that only 1.2 per cent of EE's 26.4 million UK customer base had signed up to its 4G service – something that the carrier described as "good progress".
EE says it has doubled its 4G customer base since then, and is on track for one million by 2014.
As competition in the market intensifies, 4G prices are likely to come down, and uptake should pick up. However, some still question whether there is a compelling need for 4G, especially among business users.
As if to counter such scepticism, EE CEO Olaf Swantee spoke in April of "new applications that will run even better" for enterprise users wielding 4G devices, but Computing has yet to find a convincing case study of an enterprise solution that depends on 4G mobile data rates.
Still, time moves on, and O2 and Vodafone may discover opportunities that EE has so far failed to capitalise on. Meanwhile, more users are at least buying LTE-equipped phones as 4G becomes the hardware norm across the board.