O2 will launch its 4G LTE network in three UK cities on 29 August.

Up to five million people in London, Leeds and Bradford will be first to get the network, with 13 cities live by the end of the year.

The launch is the UK’s second 4G LTE network to be turned on, and the first since EE began its commercial roll out in October last year.

Last week, EE announced 687,000 customers had signed up to its service so far.

O2 said its “ambitious” rollout plan aims to make 4G available to two million people per month.

It is launching with a tariff costing £26 per month and is offering 12 months free music content. SIM only and post paid tariffs will be available at launch with pay-as-you-go to arrive “in the coming months”.

The Telefónica subsidiary said data usage on its network has more than doubled in the last 12 months, demonstrating the ever-growing appetite for mobile data services.

 “Digital connectivity will be made ubiquitous by 4G and become the oxygen of modern life,” commented Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK (O2).

“The full potential of 4G is as yet unexplored, but what we can be sure of is that it will allow for a whole new world of opportunity that people are now ready for. Over half of our customers say they use more data than two years ago and even more use wifi wherever they go, to always stay connected. Given this trend, there is no doubt that 4G will transform our lives, be it as consumers, in business or through public sector services.”

Telefónica spent €628 million on acquiring 800 MHz spectrum, which is better for indoor coverage, in the auction in February.

As part of its winning package, O2 must provide a mobile broadband indoor coverage service to at least 98 percent of the UK population and at least 95 percent of the population of each of the UK nations by the end of 2017.

CCS Insight analyst Kester Mann said the announcement was “lowest of low-key launches”.

Hovever, he added: “It does give the operator the kudos of making an announcement before Vodafone, who we understand are poised to make an announcement next week.

“With 3 launching in Q4 and electing not to charge a premium, albeit with a network of limited coverage, the UK is set to become one of the most competitive markets for 4G services.”

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