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Three Promises Free 4G Upgrade

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Three will not charge extra for 4G on all new and existing price plans – unlike EE

Three has pledged not to charge customers additional fees for 4G services when it rolls out LTE across its network later this year.

In a ‘public commitment’, the operator promised that free 4G will be included as standard across all existing and new price plans “unlike some other operators.”

This is a thinly-veiled dig at EE, currently operating the UK’s only 4G service after it was granted permission by Ofcom to use its existing spectrum for LTE. EE’s tariffs have come under fire for being too expensive and offering low data caps.

Three free 4G roll out

Three Landscape“Our customers choose Three because they love the internet and know they can get great speeds and great value on our award-winning network,” said Three chief executive Dave Dyson. “As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we’ve listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don’t want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we’ve decided our customers will get this service as standard.”

Last November, Dyson told TechWeekEurope that the company might not offer any LTE-specific tariffs, adding that there needed to be a distinction between a service, such as ultrafast, and technology, such as 4G.

He said that Three’s existing ultrafast service, based on DC-HSPDA+, was capable of offering speeds similar to that of LTE and so customers would notice very little when 4G was rolled out on its network. DC-HSPDA+ currently covers 55 percent of the UK population in 50 towns and cities, a figure that is due to rise to 80 percent by the end of March.

Three has acquired valuable 1800MHz spectrum from EE already, but has stressed that it is under no rush to launch 4G.

Handsets such as the iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S III LTE, Sony Xperia Z and BlackBerry Z10 are already ultrafast-compatible, as are the iPad with retina display and iPad Mini.

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