Mobile operator Three UK (Hutchison 3GUK Ltd.) has announced that their forthcoming 4G (LTE) based “ultrafast” Mobile Broadband network will, unlike its rivals, offer the service across all existing and new price plans “without customers needing to pay a premium fee to upgrade“.
The move, aside from adding more confusion to the already vague definition of “ultrafast“, could spark a new price war as most operators had been expected to charge extra for the service in an attempt to reverse falling revenues (partly caused by more customers using the less lucrative data / internet services than old style voice calls).
Mobile operator EE became the first to launch a 4G service last year (using the 1800MHz radio spectrum band) but most commentators and consumers alike were left feeling somewhat underwhelmed at the high prices and meagre data allowances. Since then EE has moved to improve its service but many consumers appear to be waiting for rivals to enter the market before taking the plunge.
Dave Dyson, CEO of ThreeUK, said:
“Our customers choose Three because they love the internet and know they can get great speeds and great value on our award-winning network.
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.
With Three, it’s simple, great value and Ultrafast. What you might expect from the network that was built for the internet.”
Three UK hope to grab a slice of the 800MHz and or 2.6GHz band in Ofcom’s current 4G spectrum auction and its first services could go live before the summer. The operator has also signed a separate deal to use a slice of EE’s now divested 1800MHz spectrum (2 x 15MHz), although this won’t be usable until September 2013.
Meanwhile Three UK’s existing 3G network already claims to cover “more than 97.8% of the population“, although such statements should always be taken with a pinch of salt. In addition some 55% of the UK population (in 50 UK towns and cities) are also said to be within reach of its current “ultrafast” DC-HSDPA (Dual Carrier High Speed Downlink Packet Access) network, which can offer faster mobile internet speeds (up to 42Mbps peak) and is set to reach 80% coverage by the end of March 2013.
At this stage Three UK cannot announce the full expectations for its forthcoming 4G service because that would naturally still depend upon the outcome of Ofcom’s on-going auction.