UK and French operators jostle for LTE limelight

UK operators Vodafone and EE have been quick to indicate they will offer the latest Apple iPhones on their LTE networks, rounding off a week of announcements that have seen both operators vying for subscribers to their "4G" plans.

Vodafone has come out with all guns blazing since its LTE launch on Aug. 29, offering 4 GB of extra data per month for people who sign up before the end of October. The operator added that the "4GBonus" would be added free of charge to the plans of existing subscribers to its Vodafone Red 4G-ready and Vodafone Red Business 4G-ready plans.

The operator is also extending LTE services to five more cities in the UK (Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield) by Sept. 28, and said Bradford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle would also be switched on by the end of the year. Vodafone is targeting 98 per cent population coverage by 2015.

Meanwhile, the UK's LTE market leader EE moved quickly to regain the spotlight, boasting that it has reached 1 million subscribers four months ahead of schedule. The operator is also introducing a new plan called "Swap" that enables customers to upgrade from six months into their 18- or 24-month contracts. This is certainly a timely move in view of the arrival of the new iPhone 5s and 5c models starting from Sept. 20 in the UK.

Both operators are also competing with O2 UK's recently launched LTE network, while 3 UK plans to start offering unlimited LTE data plans starting in December.

Over in France meanwhile, Orange responded to SFR's recent claim that it has the broadest LTE coverage in Paris by saying it has the No. 1 one LTE network in France and is also now covering all areas of the French capital.

Orange said its LTE network will be switched on in 70 "agglomerations" (cities and surrounding urban centres) including over 500 towns at the end of September. It claims it will cover 40 per cent of the French population by the end of the year, up from the current target of 30 per cent, and said it is the only French operator to offer maximum theoretical speeds of 150 Mbps.

As things stand, Orange France now has 250,000 LTE customers. It currently competes with SFR on the LTE market and will soon face competition from Bouygues Telecom, which plans to launch its LTE services on Oct. 1.

For more:
- see this Vodafone UK release
- see this EE release
- see this separate EE release
- see this Orange France release

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