LONDON (Reuters) - Vodafone switched on its 5G network in seven British cities on Wednesday, aiming to set itself apart in its home market from rival EE by offering unlimited data plans that include the high-speed service at no premium.
The move by the world’s No.2 mobile operator came as Deutsche Telekom announced a limited rollout of 5G services in its German home market, stealing a march on competitors.
Nick Jeffery, chief executive of Vodafone UK, said offering unlimited data plans to both consumer and business customers would revolutionize the mobile market.
“We will give customers all the data they need, when and where they want it,” he said.
Jeffery said Vodafone had examined how consumers used their devices and how it managed its network, including the efficiencies offered by 5G technology, before deciding to switch to unlimited data plans.
“We thought it was the right role for Vodafone to get back to its roots as a great British tech innovator,” he told reporters.
EE, which is owned by BT, launched the first British 5G commercial service on May 30. It is offering a range of contract and sim-only deals for the ultrafast service.
Vodafone is taking a different approach by offering unlimited downloads tiered according to speed, starting from 23 pounds ($28.90) a month for up to 2 Mbps, 26 pounds for up to 10 Mbps and 30 pounds for speeds as fast as the device and network will allow.
“Let battle commence, Vodafone is looking to go toe-to-toe with EE,” industry analyst Paolo Pescatore said. “The scale of its ambitions should not be underestimated. 5G represents a significant opportunity to turn around its fortunes in the UK.”
He added that the 5G market would see a further boost when Apple releases its first 5G device, most likely next year.