Free 4G for all says Tesco Mobile, from just £7.50 a month
Tesco Mobile is putting free 4G in your trolley, putting pressure on rivals EE, O2 and Vodafone that charge premium prices.
Tesco Mobile is putting free 4G in your trolley. That's right, unlike rivals EE, Vodafone and O2, from today the supermarket isn't charging extra for 4G -- prompting experts to predict this is the beginning of the end for 4G fees.
Previously Tesco charged £2.50 extra on top of normal contracts to add extra-fast 4G data. But the no-frills network has waived even that piffling fee, meaning you can now get extra-fast data for as little as £7.50 a month.
You can top up to 4G today, even if you're part-way through your current contract. Deals start with that £7.50 SIM-only deal, but that only nets you 250 minutes, 5,000 texts and, most importantly, 500MB of data. You'll chew through that in no time -- we recommend at least 5GB of data to get the most out of your faster phone.
Tesco is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), which means it uses the masts and infrastructure of a major network, in this case O2. Because O2's network is still relatively new, coverage isn't as wide as EE, which has had a year-long headstart as the first 4G network in the UK. But O2 has expanded to 13 major cities and over 140 surrounding towns. To find out if you're covered, check out Tesco Mobile's coverage map.
To benefit from 4G you also need to buy a 4G-capable phone. Tesco has compiled a handy list of the phones that work with this speedy new network tech, including the iPhone 5S and 5C, with the new Motorola Moto X on its way.
Paying extra for 4G "will be all but gone by the summer", predicts industry expert Kester Mann of CCS Insight. "The move again highlights our view that the UK is one of the most competitive markets in Europe for 4G services and will further boost the accelerating adoption of the technology."
Rob Kerr of uSwitch.com agrees. "Tesco has pipped Three to the post and is also the first MVNO to give the mobile giants a run for their money. And with Tesco's brand power and the same coverage as O2, it could force the hand of the bigger networks to continue making 4G more affordable across the board. The big question is, how low will they go?"
Tesco is only the second network to make 4G free, after Three. EE, O2 and Vodafone all charge a premium for 4G, but amid the competition over prices they're also scrapping over perks, such as free access to Spotify or The Sun's Premier League goals.
Are you a Tesco Mobile customer? Will you switch to 4G, or will you wait until more areas are covered? Let me know in the comments.