Three to offer LTE at 3G prices

by Kenny Hemphill on February 4, 2013

Three, the UK’s smallest network operator has thrown down the gauntlet to its larger competitors by announcing that it will offer access to its ‘Ultrafast’ network at the same price as its current 3G plans.

The company said it would expand that network, which is currently based on DC-HSDPA technology (sometimes called 3G+ or 3.5G), from 55% of the population to 80% next month and that it would incorporate the 1800MHz bandwidth it acquired when Orange and T-Mobile merged to form EE.

‘Any customer with an Ultrafast ready device can already enjoy great speeds on Three’s Ultrafast network without paying a premium or needing to swap SIM cards or price plans. LTE will be available as standard with all customers’ price plans when the roll-out begins later this year,’ said the company in a statement.

All four of the country’s networks; EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone, are currently bidding for spectrum on which to build LTE networks. EE currently offers LTE on spectrum previously used for 2G services, and Three seemed to have a dig at its competitor when it said ‘Unlike some other UK mobile operators, it will be available across all existing and new price plans without customers needing to pay a premium fee to ‘upgrade’.

Neither O2 nor Vodafone are prepared to make a similar commitment; both say it;s too early to talk about pricing. EE currently offers 500MB, which lasts around five minutes, for £31/month. Three’s SIM-only price for 500MB is £6.90. Three offers unlimited data, SIM-only for £25 on a one-year contract, while EE’s highest-bandwidth LTE plan, 8GB, costs £46/month SIM-only.

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