O2's 4G network will go live in London, Leeds and Bradford this month - followed by ten more cities by the end of the year. The rollout will end EE's virtual monopoly on high-speed mobile internet connectivity.
O2 customers will need a new SIM and a handset compatible with the 800MHz radio band that O2 bought in the last frequency spectrum auction. The service will cost at least £26 a month, but we don't as yet know how much data allowance that will cover – so it's hard to see if it's good value.
The 18 supported smartphones provide no surprises; the iPhone 5 is notable its absence as even its European incarnation only supports the 1.8GHz band, which remains the exclusive preserve of EE. Until October, that is, which is when Three gets a small slice of those airwaves.
By then there'll be a new iPhone (or two, perhaps), and O2's CEO Ronan Dunne was on the wireless this morning declaring that he'd be "amazed" if whatever emerges from Apple in the autumn doesn't support at least the 800MHz band.
iPhone 5 fanbois who really want the 4G experience, and don't want to switch to EE, can take advantage of O2's Phone Promise programme to swap their handset - but they'd be advised to take a careful look at the numbers, as it's not the simple transaction one might imagine.
Not that anyone is going to jump without knowing what the O2 tariffs will actually cost; the precise details won't come out for another week or two. Similarly, we know that O2 will have some coverage in London, Leeds, Bradford, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh by the end of 2013.
For the initial rollout, the country's capital city is an obvious choice for 4G, and (if you're wondering) Leeds is particularly well mapped out in terms of radio signal reception.
O2's 4G licence requires them to cover 98 per cent of the UK population by 2017, divided up by region (so 98 per cent of Scots, 98 per cent of the Welsh, etc). The company reckons it will achieve that during 2015, which bodes well for a coverage war pushing decent connectivity into the boondocks.
In the meantime we're given a series of comedy videos to whet the appetite.
The one above would have been a lot better if they'd just stumped up for Eye of The Tiger, as they obviously intended. ®