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Three UK Delays 4G Mobile Broadband Launch to Q4 2013

Posted Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 (1:11 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,341)
three uk mobile broadband

Mobile operator Three UK (Hutchison 3G UK), which still misleadingly insists upon calling its existing 3G based Mobile Broadband network “ultrafast” (fixed line ISPs tend to associate this with speeds of at least 100Mbps), has confirmed that it’s future 4G (LTE) product will be last to market when it arrives in Q4-2013.

The operator recently spent £225m to secure a useful slice of the 800MHz band in Ofcom’s auction (here) and it will soon compliment this with a chunk of EE’s 1800MHz band during September 2013 (here).

In theory this means that Three UK could launch its first 4G service before the summer via 800MHz, like many expect O2 and Vodafone to do, although they’re apparently in no rush. Quite the contrast given that not so long ago they were crying out for more radio spectrum.

David Dyson, CEO of Three, said:

We’re in no rush to launch LTE. First we’ll see how 4G is positioned by O2 and Vodafone and look at how we position it. I am fairly relaxed about it.

Ultrafast will take time to build awareness of just as customers understanding of 4G will.

The operators existing 3G network is currently being upgraded to support its new “ultrafastDC-HSDPA (Dual Carrier High Speed Downlink Packet Access) platform, which can offer faster mobile internet download speeds of up to 42Mbps and should reach 80% coverage by the end of this month.

But DC-HSDPA is still technically a 3G solution and must be supported by your hardware for any benefit. In reality most consumers will never receive anything even close to the peak theoretical speeds being promised above, which has to be shared with other users. Not that any of this will stop Three UK diluting the already vague definition of Ultrafast with its own unique twist.

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13 Responses
  1. DanielM

    “But DC-HSDPA is still technically a 3G solution ”

    So is LTE,

    • Hehe yes, at least until it hits LTE-Advanced. On the other hand if you look very deeply into the ITU datasheets you’ll see that this is actually just a guideline rather than a strict rule. So LTE can still be described as 4G, even though it technically isn’t.. yet :).

      I’ll run an update on the issue of 4G definitions in the near future.

  2. Kyle

    I still commend Three for pushing ahead with AYCE data, where others (especially VM capping to 2Mbps with an additional monthly data cap) are still not au fait with how mobile usage is growing.

    I joined Three at the beginning and I’ve recently gone back to them. The amount of money invested really shows and I for one really wish people don’t continue to view them as a budget network. I think it will be hard to shift, although they definitely seem to be going in the right direction.

    I’ve only praise for their CS as well. Very efficient and courteous, resolving issues where others (T-Mobile) couldn’t. Yes, they’re based offshore but they’ve always resolved my issues.

    • Alex Ward

      In exactly the same boat. Left them years ago and just went back – and very happy that I did.

  3. Alex Ward

    Personally feel that this post doesn’t give 3 credit. I’ve got an iPhone 5 that does support DC-HSDPA on 3 and at home I get almost 30Mbps on a good evening (probably 20Mbps on average for most evenings). I still feel this is “ultrafast” compared to most networks which have 3G speeds of 3-4Mbps. In addition, 3 will open LTE on the 1800Mhz band, which the iPhone 5 will pick up, in September (as posted). Can’t really complain myself. Tie this in with the unlimited data and included tethering and personally I think that’s a fairly good deal.

    • 24-30Mbps+ is officially defined by the government and Ofcom as “super-fast”, so you can call it that. So in an ideal world you couldn’t really call it “ultra-fast” until it’s able to deliver above at least 100Mbps.

    • Kyle

      Although FTTC is still called ‘fibre’ broadband…

  4. onephat

    Same as above but Nokia lunia 920. Tether with that and its 3 times faster than my home adsl

  5. Connor

    I get around 10Mbps on my Samsung Galaxy S3, Three’s network is Ultrafast compared to Vodafone and O2. Never had a problem with them, customer services were fine, upload speed is at least 10x what my ADSL upload speed is!

  6. DTMark

    For our postcode…

    “At the moment Ultrafast Internet is unavailable in your area. We’re continuing to upgrade our network, so please check back soon to see if your signal and speed has improved.”

    The speeds attainable have improved since the service was launched (from about 2 Meg to 12 Meg) and so hopefully our £750 to £1k per year spend on our 3G broadband will pesuade them to get around to the cells here.

    For the DC-HSPA service is it roughly accurate to say that you need to be within about 3km of at least two cells with a good signal from each with both upgraded?

    Is it only “dual” (two cells) or can it go to three or four?

  7. dita

    Worst company ever.

  8. Albert Hurwood

    Over the last 3-4 days the coverage of 3 has been appalling!

    I have been with them for just over a year and never had any problems so am VERY annoyed by these ones.

    I don’t know what they’re up to but I can no longer connect through my router and my IP address just keeps changing – so far in the last hour it has changed THREE times from 94.x.x.x to 188.x.x.x to 92.x.x.x

    At the moment I’m connected (for 5 minutes!) but god knows how long that will be for!

  9. Amir

    Been on three for about 6months, when I’m at my family home in West London the 3g reception is very poor, but when I’m in central London at my house the 3g reception is super fast DL speeds at 8-10mb/s

    America has 4G which is actually HSPA+ which is UK 3g speed

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