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Phones 4U creates own network Life Mobile, 4G this year

Phones 4U is launching its own network, Life Mobile, complete with 4G service this year thanks to a deal with EE.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Expertise Films, TV, Movies, Television, Technology
Richard Trenholm
2 min read
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Phones 4U is launching its own network, called Life Mobile -- and it'll be a case of 4G phones for you soon, thanks to a deal with EE.

The new network -- Phones 4U writes it LIFE Mobile but we're glossing over that -- launches in March, with a 4G service to follow later in the year.

By piggybacking on EE's existing 4G network, Life Mobile sidesteps the auction of 4G airwaves that the other major phones networks have to go through. EE, the company formed by the merger of Orange and T-Mobile, used its spare airwaves to create the UK's first 4G phone service in 2012. But the other networks have to buy different spectrum for their 4G service, with telecoms watchdog Ofcom expecting the auction to be complete and the first rival 4G service online around May this year.

Phones 4U's Life mobile is a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO. That means it's a network that uses someone else's masts and infrastructure -- in this case EE.

Other MVNOs include GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile, which use O2's masts, and Virgin Media, which also uses EE's kit. Phones 4U's phone-flogging high street rival Carphone Warehouse owns Talkmobile, which runs on Vodafone. That's just a smattering of the names in MVNO-land -- EE alone supports 25 MVNOs -- so it's worth remembering there's plenty of choice beyond the big names of EE, Vodafone, Three and O2.

Phones 4U will sell Life Mobile deals in high-street stores and online from March. Life Mobile says data will be included in every tariff, although exact details and prices are yet to be revealed.

Would you sign up to a Phones 4U network? Will Life Mobile be a decent alternative to EE's 4G network? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.