O2 has become the second British carrier alongside EE to announce high-speed 4G services, which are due to be launched at the end of the month. The rollout, which will initially cover London, Leeds and Bradford, will start on August 29, with a further 10 cities due to be added by the end of the year.
4G price plans will start from around £26 ($39) a month and O2 is already offering several 4G-enabled phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and the Blackberry Z10. As O2 has snapped up the 800 MHz spectrum, the new network will not be compatible with the iPhone 5, as the device operates on different spectrums. However, the CEO of Telefónica UK (the parent company of O2), told the BBC that he "would be frankly gobsmacked if their [Apple] roadmap didn't address that issue", suggesting that future models will support the new network.
Due to issues with Ofcom, the UK telecommunications regulator, and the delayed switch-off of the old analog television networks (the new 4G networks now operate within these frequencies), the rollout of faster LTE networks in the UK has been plagued with delays. EE, a joint subsidiary between Orange S.A. and Deutsche Telekom, was the first to roll out 4G networks back in August 2012, and its network already covers most of the UK's major towns and cities, with improvements being made daily.
EE has stated that by the end of 2014 its network will cover up to 98% of the UK population (around 62 million people). The 4G auction back in February 2013, which raised around £2.3 billion ($3.5 billion) for the UK government, awarded spectrum for 4G services to the four major UK carriers plus BT, one of the largest telecommunications operators in the UK. Both Vodafone and 3, two other British carriers, have yet launch their 4G networks, although Vodafone expects its network to go online "later this year", which may well coincide with an Apple iPhone announcement expected around September.