EE and Vodafone clash over 4G at British Grand Prix

EE and Vodafone clash over 4G at British Grand Prix
EE: "why advertise a product that you don't have?"

There's trouble brewing between EE and Vodafone as questions are raised over the latter's decision to brand two McLaren Mercedes cars at this weekend's British Grand Prix with "Ultrafast 4G" - even though Vodafone is yet to launch its LTE service.

EE is currently the only network in the UK which offers a 4G service and the likes of O2, Three and Vodafone are still a few months off delivering rival solutions to customers.

According to Vodafone, EE's Chief of Brand and Communications Steven Day contacted the network late Friday night "demanding" that Button and Perez's cars be garaged and the 4G livery removed - although EE claims this isn't what happened.

Clue's in the name

A Vodafone UK spokesperson told TechRadar: "This is sponsorship, not advertising. The clue is in the team's name: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We're using the cars to build further awareness of our forthcoming ultrafast 4G service.

"It's a 'static promotion', albeit on a car that can travel at over 200mph. Consumers know Vodafone's ultrafast 4G is coming. We've said very publicly it will be here by the late summer. Even if someone seeing the car wasn't aware of that, there is no 'call to action' on it."

However over at EE it's claimed that there was no demand made, rather it merely enquired why Vodafone had taken the decision it had.

Vodafone 'not even on the grid'

TechRadar was told by an EE spokesperson: "We're far from demanding Jenson get garaged, we're right behind him for tomorrow's race. We simply asked why advertise a product that you don't have?

"When it comes to 4G mobile networks, Vodafone UK isn't even on the grid. "

It's probably fair to say we're never going to find out the exact words exchanged between the two networks late last night, but what it does tell us is the UK's 4G market is going to seriously hot up when the remaining networks get on board.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.