Vodafone offers content but not great coverage

4G customers will get free access to live sport from Sky, or Spotify's vast music library, but for a limited period only

Is Vodafone about to retire Yoda from its advertising campaigns in favour of Robbie Williams? Setting out his plans for Vodafone's 4G launch at the end of August, the firm's UK chief executive threatened to break out into a version of the crooner's signature tune, Let Me Entertain You.

Vodafone's 4G vision is not about the dry facts of download rates and coverage. Its publicity material makes no mention of the likely average connection speed.

It is all about content. Vodafone customers will get access to live sport from Sky, or Spotify's vast music library, with their 4G packages. Pretty baubles, but the content is free for only a limited period.

Once the deal expires, what will customers be getting for the £5 a month extra that a typical 4G contract will cost? Faster connections certainly, but in a limited number of locations. Like its rival O2, Vodafone's rollout will reach just 13 cities by Christmas. EE's superfast network has already arrived in 95 towns and cities.

Where no 4G mast is available, all networks will bump users on to their 3G service. In many places, there is no mobile internet signal at all. Years after the government auction cleared the airwaves for 3G, only 77% of premises in the UK, and 20% of the landmass, are served by all four networks, according to Ofcom. We are being promised virtually blanket 4G coverage of premises by the end of 2015. That date is more than two years away. At least Vodafone is offering to keep us entertained while we wait.

Contributor

Juliette Garside

The GuardianTramp

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