With Three's same-price-as-3G service coming soon, O2 has slashed its 4G prices. Knocking a fiver off its Airtime plans on O2 Refresh, you can now bag a contract with 1GB of superfast data -- plus unlimited calls and texts -- for £17.
A gig won't go very far when you can download at an average speed of 16Mbps (just under 10 minutes of constant downloading, in fact) but you can up that to 5GB for £22 or 8GB for £27. Those are limited offers, expiring at the end of February, after which the same price will get you 3GB and 5GB respectively.
Refresh is only available if you buy your phone from O2 as well as your service. If you've already got a 4G blower and just need a SIM, the deals are a little pricier. A 12-month contract on 4G Simplicity will set you back £21 for 1GB, £26 for 5GB or £31 for 8GB, with the same reduction if you sign up after February.
That's similar to EE's SIM-only deals, which are £21 for 1GB, £26 for 3GB, £31 for 5GB and £41 for 8GB -- a little stingier with the data over 1GB. EE also offers an effectively useless 500MB deal for £16 per month.
Vodafone's Red 4G deals are more expensive to start, but much more generous with the ol' data at the moment -- 6GB for £26, 8GB for £31, 12GB for £36. That includes a 'free' 4GB until the end of January, and free Spotify or Sky Sports for 6 months or the full year, depending on which option you go for.
None of the above offer any unlimited 4G options, which Three will. Three's offering is expected to be a little slower than the others, because it bought less spectrum in the recent auction, but not by much -- 14Mbps, it reckons.
Coverage slowly expanding
It's all moot if you don't have 4G coverage in your area, of course, and it's here that EE is miles ahead of the others, with well over 100 towns and cities covered. Vodafone and O2 cover London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and more, but they're far from nationwide. Three is even further behind, and hopes to cover 40-odd cities by the end of 2014.
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Update: Fixed a bits/bytes confusion in the second paragraph.