O2 4G launch August 29 as EE gets LTE competition

O2 UK has revealed its 4G LTE plans, giving carrier EE some competition for high-speed data. The new O2 4G service will go live on August 29, initially in London, Leeds, and Bradford, the FT reports, with the three cities being followed by a further ten before the end of 2013, the carrier has promised. The cheapest O2 LTE tariff will be £26 ($40) per month, though O2 is yet to detail exactly what that will include.

Although competition for EE is undoubtedly welcome, it will nonetheless take O2 some time to match its rival's head-start on 4G service. EE currently operates LTE in 95 UK towns and cities, with more than 100 expected to have coverage by the end of August; it also has double-speed LTE service in fifteen cities.

EE was criticized at launch for the cost of its 4G plans, though has trimmed away some of the fat since then. Most recently, it announced a new set of shared-data plans, while individual subscribers can get 4G service from £21 ($32) per month.

O2 is working with long-time rival Vodafone on shared infrastructure for the two carriers' 4G roll-out, though each will operate an independent network. Vodafone is yet to confirm when it will begin its own 4G service, though Mobile reports that it is expected to announce its intentions sometime next week.

By the end of the year, O2 aims to have 4G service running in Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester, and Edinburgh, along with the initial London, Leeds, and Bradford coverage.

In addition to 4G smartphones, there will be mobile broadband devices, 4G-enabled tablets, and 4G modems for individual use. However, conspicuously absent will be iPhone 5 LTE support; because of the bands O2 is using, only EE's network will work properly with the current iPhone 5.

That's likely to be addressed with the upcoming iPhone 5S, it's expected, and O2 is said to have prepared around twenty devices for its 4G launch.