Mobile networks O2 and Vodafone have each launched concerted marketing campaigns to persuade existing customers to remain with them, even though they are yet to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile phone services.

The two networks – which are not scheduled to begin offering a 4G option until the New Year – will both have to endure a critical period during which rival operator EE will be the only provider of 4G services.

The thrust of each campaign is to persuade existing and potential customers of O2 and Vodafone respectively to wait until their own 4G services become available in 2013, rather than opting for EE’s version of the service.

Vodafone’s efforts have centred on a £4.5m national press campaign, using the message:

‘not all 4G networks are the same.’

The advertisements claim that Vodafone’s version of 4G will carry the signal ‘further into your home’ and be the only 4G service supported by a ‘nationwide fibre backbone’.

In the meantime, Vodafone is offering anyone who buys one of several specified handsets compatible with the operator’s existing 3G network a 70 per cent discount on the balance of their contract – should they later decide to opt for a new handset and access Vodafone’s own 4G network once it launches in the spring.

O2’s campaign, likewise, includes a promise to reduce remaining 3G contract costs by 10 per cent – and to write off the VAT – for any customer buying an iPhone 5 on its existing 3G plan, but who later decides to choose a new handset compatible with its 4G service.