Britain's phone frenzy moves into top gear

Phone companies are chasing ever faster ways to sate Britain's phone obsession. Photo: Steve Drew/EMPICS Sport

Britain is speeding up, with faster downloads for our smartphones, tablets and laptops on the move.

Today both Vodafone and O2 launched their versions of the service - which means users can get things like TV, sports coverage and music all downloaded around six times faster than previously.

4G users can download a song in four seconds or upload a photo in six seconds. The two new players in this market join hot on the heels of EE, which launched its version last October.

From today three networks offer 4G:

  • EE is now available in 100 towns and cities
  • Vodafone has 4G in London
  • O2 is in London, Leeds and Bradford

But both the new players say they will eventually serve 98% of the population, starting with service to 13 big cities by the end of the year. The Three network says it will offer 4G at no premium cost from the end of the year.

More firms offering 4G means more competition and the prospects of a price war that could bring prices down.

By the end of 2015 only 2% of Britain will remain out of 4G range. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

But this is a battle that goes beyond price. Firms will offer perks to lure us into the new services.

For a nation locked in a love affair with its mobiles - there are more handsets in Britain than people - this is a significant benchmark.

But it is not the end. 5G is expected by 2020, allowing us to download high definition or even 3D images while we are meant to be having a conversation with our partners, bosses and friends in the pub. This, it seems, is progress.