It’s been a year – almost to the day – since the U.K.’s first 4G LTE network was announced. Since then, EE has had the domestic 4G market largely to itself, with competition having only just been announced by its rival networks, Vodafone and O2.
Three has also confirmed that it will launch 4G services later this year, but hasn’t yet committed to a specific date. It will be the last of the major U.K. networks to launch 4G services, putting it at a disadvantage against its competitors – particularly EE, which has used its head start well, with 4G coverage now extending to over 100 cities and large towns.
Three has now shared a bit more detail on its planned rollout. The company is still being vague on the exact date of its launch, reiterating only that it will happen in December, with London, Birmingham and Manchester the first three cities to get coverage. Coverage will extend beyond these cities to West Bromwich, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Oldham and Reading by the end of this year.
Next year, the company plans aggressive expansion of its 4G network to a further 50 cities across the U.K., with 98% coverage of the population by the end of 2015.
While other networks have loaded their 4G price plans with bundled extras – such as streaming music and TV, or other features designed to add value – Three’s 4G offering is much more straightforward. Gimmicky freebies aren’t part of the mix, and neither is expensive ‘early adopter’ pricing.
Instead, Three says it won’t charge customers any more for 4G connectivity compared with existing 3G plans; when its LTE signal goes live, all customers with a 4G-ready phone will be connected to 4G at no extra cost. Additionally, unlike its rivals, Three isn’t requiring its contract customers to sign up to a new 12-24 month plan to be able to use 4G.
Perhaps the most exciting element of Three’s 4G offering is that it has committed to providing “all-you-can-eat” data, again at no extra cost over its existing unlimited 3G plans. Other U.K. networks have rejected such offerings entirely, preferring to charge customers based on the amount of data they wish to purchase each month.
Source and images: Three