It's the Giff that keeps on Giffing: budget network GiffGaff goes 4G today, at wallet-friendly prices and with contracts you can cancel any time.
GiffGaff is a low-cost mobile network owned by O2 and using O2 masts and infrastructure, but run as a separate business. Costs are kept down by minimal advertising and customer support, with users encouraged to help each other and spread the word: you can earn credit or cash by helping other users with their problems in the user forums or recruiting friends and family onto the network.
GiffGaff's contracts are rolling monthly deals, called "goodybags". Deals start at £12 for 500 minutes of calls, unlimited texts and 1GB of Internet use. £15 per month bumps you to 3GB of Internet; and £18 per month gets you 1,000 minutes and 5GB of data. If you're an existing GiffGaff user, those deals are even cheaper until January, starting at £10.
The cheapest comparable 4G deals come from Three, which offers 1GB of data and 600 minutes of calls for £10. However, that ties you into a 12-month commitment, whereas GiffGaff's goodybags can be cancelled at any time.
Current GiffGaff SIM cards are ready for 4G, so if you have an LTE phone all you need to do is buy a 4G goodybag. As always, you should check whether the place you call home is covered before you do anything: major cities have good coverage, but further out you may struggle to get superfast speeds. If you stray too far into the sticks your phone will fall back on 3G.
4G kicked off in the UK in October 2012 when EE used its existing spectrum to launch LTE, pre-empting the government's 4G spectrum auction and securing a headstart over rivals. O2, Vodafone and Three got in the game roughly a year later. 4G coverage is now much wider and prices more competitive, with the networks also offering various incentives such as free Spotify or Sky Sports subscriptions with your 4G contract.
If you're not ready for 4G, GiffGaff's 3G price-busting deals start at a mere £5 per month for 60 minutes of calls, 300 texts and 20MB of Internet, and run up to unlimited Internet for a mere £18. Calls to other people on GiffGaff are free, which is a pretty handy incentive to sign up your nearest and dearest.