A 4G war has broken out in the UK, with Vodafone going on the offensive just a few days before rival EE launches the country’s first commercial service.
Leading Vodafone’s onslaught was a series of wraparound adverts on the front cover of several national newspapers on Friday. The ads talked up the carrier’s success in again being voted the nations ‘best’ mobile network, before detailing why its 4G service will be better.
The carrier notes its 4G service won’t suffer the same indoor signal degradation due to operating at 800-MHz. EE’s forthcoming service will utilize refarmed 1800-MHz spectrum, which is likely to be less effective indoors.
Vodafone is also talking up its national fiber backbone – one of the first times the phrase has made it into mainstream media – in a bid to persuade consumers of its importance in service quality. The firm acquired the 20,500km network when it bought Cable & Wireless Worldwide earlier this year.
If the network prowess isn’t enough to persuade consumers, Vodafone hopes a 70% reduction in their contract charges will. It is pledging to swap certain 3G smartphones for 4G devices for contract customers, and then implement the reduction on their remaining contract charges. There is a slight caveat in the form of ‘damage’ to current handsets – which the firm states it will have to account for in the swap.
The whole campaign is bold stuff from Vodafone, particularly because it doesn’t actually have a 4G license yet. The auction of 800-MHz and 2.6-GHz spectrum is scheduled to take place early next year, though few would bet against Vodafone netting an operating license.
However, the campaign also shows Vodafone is worried about the six month head start EE has been granted by regulator Ofcom’s decision to let it open for business on refarmed spectrum.