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Subscribers will get 4G at no extra charge, as carrier promises no price hike

The UK LTE market just got a whole lot more interesting tonight, as Three UK has announced that it'll bring 4G LTE service to its existing customers at no extra charge. The network, which plans to roll out 4G on newly-acquired 1800MHz spectrum later this year, says its subscribers will get the LTE upgrade as standard, assuming they're using a compatible handset.

Currently EE is the only network offering 4G services in the UK, and due to its effective monopoly the carrier is able to charge much more than its competitors. Today's announcement heralds the arrival of unlimited LTE -- something not offered by EE -- for as little as £12 (~$19) per month on a rolling one-month contract.

The news may give prospective EE customers pause, as that carrier's contracts all run for at least 12 months, and there's no unlimited option available. If Three can pull off its promised 4G launch without any price hike, EE -- and rivals planning LTE networks of their own -- may be forced to reexamine their pricing.

Three didn't give any exact timeline as to when in 2013 it'll launch LTE, but the terms of its 1800MHz purchase from EE require the latter to hand over the spectrum by September at the latest. In the meantime, all the major UK mobile networks are competing for 800MHz and 2600MHz airwaves in the long-delayed 4G spectrum auction.

Source: Three UK


Reader comments

Three UK to deliver LTE as standard on existing price plans


I see what you mean, but it technically does have an LTE radio. And the picture at least shows a Three micro-SIM card.

$19 dollars a month for unlimited LTE. Now that is crazy! I wish I could get that instead of $30 for 3GB plus having to pay for minutes and texts. I guess that is what I get for living in America though. The land of the overpowered carriers.

We could get that in the US. However, taxes will have to go way up. We all want stuff, not all of us are willing to pay for it. If you look at countries that have high taxes, they usually have pretty nice government services. Like ridiculous high internet speeds for very cheap.

am sure all of EE customers are eating their hearts out now to join them so quick am glad i stayed with 3 unlimited data plan, i already pre-ordered my xperia Z so this will be perfect


This is not being subsidised by the government, this is called competition enforced by government. This is Three being competitive, something which rarely happens in the US.

However, taxes in the UK may be higher, but we get many more public services. E.g free healthcare, social housing etc.

I'm on Three now and couldn't be happier. I always said I'd be happy to pay a £5 premium to get the same deal on LTE as I am on 3G, so this is an absolute win for me.
The real catch will be how long it takes them to roll it out, Three has been notoriously slow at this kind of thing but never the less, I know who I'm going with when my phone is due an upgrade this summer!

going to pay off my EE contract soon and changing it to Three and i'm happy to wait for LTE as long as they don't charge me excessive amount (like EE does)!

Dumped my land line ADSL in favour of 3 in 2011, been very happy with the service, much faster than my crappy old land line could provide. My first One Plan contract expires in May, you bet I'll be renewing it and hopefully getting LTE in my area.

I never gave EE 4G a second thought, ridiculous price and data allowances. 3 network all the way & no more BT call out charges for squirrels eating the line either !

Three is brilliant but I'm still not going to get it until they finalise the LTE details. The iPhone that's out now won't, I understand be compatible across all UK LTE bands.
So I'll try and wait it out until Apple upgrade the antenna/chip in the device.

All 4G iPhones and iPads on sale in the UK right now support 1800MHz LTE, which is what Three will be using (same band that EE uses at the moment).

For Android devices it's less of an issue, because most of LTE Androids sold in Europe run on 800, 1800 and 2600, which gives you coverage for all UK LTE networks for the foreseeable future.

the iphone 5 will support threes LTE networks because they bought some of EE 1800MHZ band and they are bidding on the 800 and 2.6GHZ band as well

The iPhone 5 does not support Three's 800Mhz LTE network and 2600Mhz. So LTE will be useless outside of cities and some towns.