Vodafone Ireland will switch on its 4G mobile broadband service today, making it the second mobile network operator in Ireland to begin offering a service.

The data only service is available in six cities and 23 towns across the country.

The company said it will have a voice and consumer smartphone offer ready in time for Christmas. It is charging €29.99, including VAT, a month for the service. However, data use is capped at 20GB a month.

Late last month Eircom launched its 4G network in Dublin, Carlow and Athlone, reaching 30% of the population or 1.2 million customers. 

The company hopes to extend coverage to other major urban centres, including Cork, Galway and Limerick, between now and Christmas, raising the population coverage to 43%.

It hopes to reach 50% population coverage by next summer.

Eircom is promising data speeds up to ten times faster than the current 3G service, with the network capable of running at up to 75Mbs. In order to avail of the new 4G mobile broadband service, customers must have a 4G ready device and a 4G SIM.

Vodafone currently only has a limited range of mobile broadband ready 4G devices available, including the K5008Z dongle, R212 Mobile WiFi and Sony Xperia Z tablet2.

Meanwhile, in a sign that the war between broadband operators is intensifying, UPC has announced that it is to upgrade its entry level Horizon broadband speed from 50Mbps to 120Mbps.

UPC is also to increase its higher speed service from 150Mbs to 200Mbs. It is also increasing its monthly usage limit from 10GB to 30GB.

The change will see one package increase in prices, another decrease while others will remain the same.