Vodafone Spain beats rivals to 4G launch

Vodafone Spain is set to become the country’s first provider of 4G services when it launches its LTE network in seven major cities this week.

The operator said a commercial 4G service would be available from May 29 in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Valencia.

While coverage only extends to about 55% of the populations of those cities, the operator aims to increase outdoor coverage to 85% and in-building coverage to 60% by late summer.

Vodafone Spain is set to become the country’s first provider of 4G services when it launches its LTE network in seven major cities this week.

The operator said a commercial 4G service would be available from May 29 in Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Seville and Valencia.

While coverage only extends to about 55% of the populations of those cities, the operator aims to increase outdoor coverage to 85% and in-building coverage to 60% by late summer.

Vodafone (Alcobendas, Spain) is providing the LTE service on devices that operate in the 1800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands while it waits for broadcasters to vacate 800MHz airwaves more suited to rural deployments – scheduled to happen next year.

It claims customers will be able to enjoy download speeds of up to 150Mbps and upload speeds of 50Mbps, although the actual experience is likely to be much slower, judging by commercial rollouts in other parts of the world.

Customers already on pricier smartphone tariffs will not have to pay additional fees to enjoy the LTE service, while those on more basic packages can sign up to it for an extra €9 ($11.6) per month.

The service will, however, be free of charge until September 30 as Vodafone tries to lure customers from rivals yet to launch 4G.

Both Orange (Pozuelo de Alarcon, Spain) and Yoigo (Alcobendas, Spain) have previously announced plans to launch a commercial 4G service in July.

Incumbent Telefonica (Madrid, Spain) has not provided details of its own 4G plans but various press reports have suggested the operator is aiming for an October launch.