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O2 tears wraps off £26-a-month mobe sport, music, games (and 4G)

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O2 has joined EE and Vodafone in using 4G to justify a jump in pricing, to £26 a month, leaving Three the only UK network selling connectivity rather than technology.

O2's 4G pricing in the UK will start at £26 a month for one gigabyte of data a month, aping EE's tariff and matching Vodafone on price. Voda customers get twice the data (2GB), but O2 hopes its bundled music, sport and games will tempt punters as Vodafone's equivalent services are only free to those paying £31 a month for 4GB of data.

Vodafone's sport comes from Sky, and its music from Spotify, while O2 has its home-grown "Tracks" service for music and "Priority Sports", and a handful of games from Gameloft.

O2 also offers a "refresh" service for those who want to upgrade their handsets during their contracts: it splits monthly payments in two, one part covering the connection and the other the cost of the phone. Thus one can switch to a new mobe, and pay for it, without extending the contract or altering the connection plan.

The network also touts access to its public Wi-Fi network, although a good deal of that is free anyway so it's hard to value. Vodafone's 4G tariff bundles access to the BT Openzone wireless network, which remains unfathomably expensive to anyone not getting it in a bundle, but is, again, hard to value.

So it would seem Vodafone offers the best deal for 4G, if it weren't for the UK's smallest operator Three - which won't announce any new tariff, as it says that a tenner a month covers 1GB of data regardless of the technology used to deliver that data. Thus, it won't be charging more for 4G.

Three, of course, has less 4G spectrum than its rivals, and will likely have less coverage. EE and Three share 3G infrastructure, and apparently discussed sharing some 4G spectrum (EE has a lot of spectrum to share), but those talks broke down and all four UK networks will be deploying 4G separately.

In three weeks those networks should all be operational, but coverage over the UK will vary hugely between them. O2 has coverage obligations in its licence, but has promised to exceed those obligations, as has Vodafone. However, unless you live in the middle of one of the more popular cities the rollout of high-speed mobile broadband is not going to make much difference to your life - for a while, at least. ®

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