Vodafone takes swipe at EE's LTE network quality ahead of launch

Vodafone UK is spending £4.5 million on a high-profile advertising campaign touting the quality of its network ahead of EE's LTE launch this week.

The adverts, which covered the front pages of the leading UK newspapers, say Vodafone is building "a new ultra-fast network" called Vodafone 4G, that will deliver indoor coverage to 98 per cent of the population.

The adverts proclaim: "After being voted the best network, there's only one way to go. Better." The ads have a website address that takes interested consumers to a Vodafone portal promoting its yet-to-be-available LTE network, according to Bloomberg.

EE will become first UK operator to launch its LTE service when it lights up its 1800 MHz network Oct. 30 with coverage in 10 UK cities. The company aims to cover 20 million people by Christmas.

Commenting on the marketing blitz, Guy Laurence, head of Vodafone's UK business, compared the Vodafone network to a "deep pan" pizza, rather than the "thin and crispy" ones run by rivals. "Indoor coverage is very important," he told the Financial Times. "We want to build our network on that. There is a difference between being at the leading edge and the bleeding edge."

While Laurence declined to remark on the premium pricing that EE has decided upon for its LTE service, which has attracted some criticism for its data costs, he said that Vodafone's LTE tariffs will also charge a premium.

Laurence said he expects some early adopters to migrate over to EE's LTE service when it launches, but believes most customers will wait to see what's on offer from EE's rivals. In an effort to retain Vodafone subscribers, Laurence told the FT the company will buy customers out of their contracts at 70 per cent of the cost, if they will upgrade to LTE next year.

"The public will pick LTE up when it works," he says. "The average customer changes contract every two to two-and-a-half years. Currently, there are not many LTE handsets. In a year, there will be a lot. We will place it in the hands of the customers."

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this FT article (sub. req.)
- see this Marketing Week article

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