Three 4G Service Unlikely To Launch Until End of 2013

Three ultrafast 4G lead

Three adds 1m new customers during 2012 but wont be rushed into 4G

Three added one million new customers to its network during 2012, primarily thanks to its aggressively priced mobile data packages and unlimited data bundles, but says that it will not be rushed into rolling out 4G services.

The UK’s fourth largest operator now has 9.1 million customers, which contributed to a rise in service revenue of 3 percent over the past 12 months, but average revenue per user decreased slightly from £21.90 to £21.20. This helped increase profitability at the company, which has traditionally made a loss.

Three has the fastest growing customer base in the market, taking advantage of increasing demand for mobile data by stressing that its network is “built for the Internet.”

Three 4G services

Samsung Galaxy S4 4The operator is gearing up for the launch of 4G, having bought 1800MHz spectrum from EE and 10MHz of 800MHz bandwidth at the recent Ofcom 4G auction. However CEO Dave Dyson told the FT that LTE services are unlikely to be available until the end of this year.

He said that EE 4G had not impacted customer numbers significantly and that it believed the quality of its 3G network would combat the threat from O2 and Vodafone, which are believed to be launching LTE this summer.

Dyson has previously told TechWeekEurope that the difference between the latest version of 3G, DC-HSPA+, and the early versions of LTE is not that great (indeed, in the US, some operators refer to HSPA+ as 4G), telling us that customers do not care about specific technologies so long as they receive fast speeds and good coverage.

Three does not plan to charge extra for LTE and will instead include it in its existing ‘ultrafast’ packages. Handsets such as the iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z and BlackBerry Z10 are already ultrafast-compatible, as are the iPad with retina display and iPad Mini.

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