O2

UK mobile operator O2 has announced that the company will be launching its 4G mobile network on August 29th. The operator will snap up second place in the LTE race here in the UK, following EE's incredible lead to get established over its competitors. Initially available in London, Leeds and Bradford, O2 will be planning to extend the service to cover a further 10 cities by 2014. 

This is the news many consumers have been waiting for. EE will now be challenged by O2 and competing networks as the likes of Vodafone and Three also hop on-board and launch their respective network upgrades. How much will you be looking to fork out for 4G on O2? The basic 4G tariff will be starting at £26 a month - though it's not yet known what the plan will include.

O2's Ronan Dunne has said the company aims to match EE's launch speeds, but acknowledges that the network will be slower initially in areas where EE has installed "double speed" 4G equipment. Upgrading early will enable those who reside in supporting cities will be able to take advantage of the increased data speeds, as well as O2's 3G network elsewhere while the company gets started with the upgrades.

This is good news for Microsoft and Nokia too as O2 has become a major partner in the UK, carrying multiple Windows Phones. Unfortunately, O2 has sided with EE by charging more for higher allowances and will not be offering an "unlimited" option. Dunne did tease that customers who purchase a tariff directly through O2 will get a year's worth of free music content, though it's not clear what that would include.

As noted above, the locations that will be covered by the end of the year include Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh. O2 aims to reach 98% of the population by the end of 2015 - a full two years earlier than the deadline set by regulator Ofcom.

O2 has also started offering free Internet access on the London Underground. Both Vodafone and Three have stated they plan to unleash 4G by the end of the year.

Source: BBC; thanks, Luke, for the heads up!