O2 enters 4G fray

O2 UK will need all its savvy in attracting new users to claw back ground on rival EE in the 4G market, a leading Ovum analyst says.
Steven Hartley, telco strategy analyst, says O2’s plans to launch 4G in three cities highlights the gulf between it and EE, which is already offering next generation services on refarmed 1800-MHz spectrum.
The UK telco last week revealed it will launch commercial 4G services on August 29. The firm plans to extend coverage to a further ten cities by the year end, and is offering packages from £26 (€29.93).
“EE has a considerable LTE coverage (and therefore addressable market) lead and a particularly strong spectrum position relative to O2,” Hartley notes, adding. “Nonetheless, O2 has proven adept in the past at attracting customers in the fiercely competitive UK market.”
Hartley also approves of a 30-day exchange guarantee O2 is offering with its 4G packages, which allows consumers to switch to a 3G contract if they don’t like the latest technology. “Getting LTE in the hands of users so that they can experience the benefits of the technology has been one of the key challenges for operators around the world and this approach allows hesitant customers to take the plunge.”
The analyst’s point is highlighted in research by Ofcom, which found that 22% of UK smartphone owners don’t plan to upgrade to 4G, the BBC reports.
EE has recently been beefing up its network and packages ahead of the launch of competing services. The carrier launched services late last year, and is on track to sign up a million subscribers by the year end. EE also recently revealed its 4G coverage now stands at 60%.