Mobile phone retailer Phones 4u has announced that it is launching a mobile virtual network called LIFE Mobile, that will piggyback on EE’s 3G network.

Launching in March, LIFE Mobile will offer a variety of tariffs and services that that include data packages as standard. EE will also make 4G available for LIFE Mobile customers later in 2013.

“Our customers see their mobile devices as an integral part of their daily lives. LIFE Mobile will enable us flexibility and creativity in designing propositions to give our customers even further choice,” said Tim Whiting, group chief executive at Phones 4u

“We will sell both 3G, and later in 2013, 4G LIFE Mobile tariffs alongside our existing network propositions and are confident the new network will play a key role in driving further growth for our business.”

The agreement is an extension of a longstanding partnership between EE and Phones 4u, and takes EE’s portfolio of MVNO partnerships to 25. More information about the tariffs and other services offered by LIFE Mobile will be revealed in the coming weeks by Phones 4u.

Marc Overton, vice president of Wholesale and M2M at EE said: “By choosing the EE network, Phones 4u will guarantee its customers access to the UK’s widest 3G coverage, as well as the UK’s only 4G network later in 2013.”

The news comes as EE cuts the price of its basic 4G service – which includes unlimited UK calls and texts and 500MB of mobile data – from £36 to £31 a month for a 24-month contract. Alternatively, customers can sign up for a 12-month plan for £41 per month.

The company has also launched a new plan for “super-users” offering 20GB of mobile data, (the highest available previously was 8GB). The bundle comes with unlimited UK calls and texts and costs £61 per month on a 24-month plan for customers who sign-up by 28 February.

EE said that these new options would “provide consumers with an even greater choice of 4G options to suit their needs”.

Commenting on the news, Ovem analyst Matthew Howett said that the new plans are a pre-emptive strike aimed at EE's competitors, which will soon launch their own tariffs once the auction of 4G licences is completed.

“It’s fair to say that EE has attracted a fair degree of criticism not so much for the price of the 4G tariffs, but rather on the amount of data bundled at each level,” said Howett.

“EE was always going to have a difficult role to play being the first mover. However, its peers may be grateful for attempting to move away from an all-you-can-eat world for data to an attempt to monetise it.”