(Corrects "Wednesday" to "Monday" in paragraph 8)
* Vodafone will launch 4G services on Wednesday
* Beats rivals Yoigo, Orange with earlier launch
* Telefonica to offer something "before summer"-source
MADRID, May 27 Vodafone's Spanish unit
will become the first network in the country to launch superfast
4G mobile internet services, the company said on Monday, beating
rivals Yoigo and Orange.
Vodafone will launch the service in Spain's seven biggest
cities on Wednesday for up to 10 euros ($12.93) more than
current rates, Vodafone Spain Chief Executive Antonio Coimbra
told a news conference in Madrid.
In Spain, where 27 percent of the workforce is unemployed,
having 4G could give operators a competitive boost, particularly
if superfast internet is available at low prices.
4G services, already available in several European
countries, make it easier to make video calls and watch
television on smartphones.
Vodafone has been hit by an exodus of clients to cheaper
Its market share fell to 25.7 percent in March from 28.6
percent a year earlier. According to data from Spain's telecoms
watchdog the CMT, it lost 297,870 mobile accounts in March.
TeliaSonera's Yoigo said at the beginning of the month that
it would launch 4G services in July, with no additional cost for
current 3G subscribers. Orange pipped Yoigo to the post with an
announcement that it would offer it ten days earlier than Yoigo,
with no pricing details.
A source at No.1 player Telefonica said on Monday
that the company would "do something before the summer, either
alone or with another operator", without giving further detail.
Spanish newspaper Expansion said on Monday Telefonica was
negotiating an agreement with Yoigo to use its 4G network
because it does not have 1,800 Mhz frequencies available like
its rivals do. A Telefonica spokesman declined to comment on the
($1 = 0.7734 euros)
(Reporting by Robert Hetz; Writing by Clare Kane; editing by
Mike Collett-White and David Goodman)