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Three UK Confirm First 50 Cities and Towns for 4G Mobile Broadband

Friday, September 13th, 2013 (7:51 am) - Score 1,758

Mobile operator Three UK has published a full list of the first 50 cities and towns that can expect to benefit from their new superfast 4G (LTE) based Mobile Broadband network, which is set to go live in the United Kingdom during December 2013 and be offered “at no extra cost” to both new and existing customers.

The operator has already revealed that its 800MHz and 1800MHz (radio spectrum bands) based 4G network will initially launch this year in the English cities of London, Birmingham and Manchester (here). But we now know that customers in Reading, Oldham, Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton will also gain access to the service before the start of next year.

three uk 4g rollout cities

Unfortunately the operator hasn’t revealed precisely when the various upgrades in 2014 will take place, although it’s probably not unreasonable to expect locations like Edinburgh (Scotland) to be at the top. The operator ultimately expects its new 4G network to reach 98% of the population by the end of 2015 and it’s perhaps a little too early to know the rollout plan for that final year.

The new service will come “at no extra cost” and won’t require existing customers to take a new contract or tariff (though some compatible 4G devices might need a software upgrade to take advantage of the service), which is a very different approach from most of their rivals that have opted for data capped premium packages that cost a few pounds more.

Three UK has also decided to maintain their “all-you-can-eat” (unlimited) data plans, which would make it the only 4G operator to do so. Customers can initially expect the operator’s early 4G speeds to hover around 14Mbps, although naturally some areas might be significantly slower and others a lot faster.

It’s also worth pointing out that Three UK has an adequate amount of 1800MHz spectrum for the service (2 x 15MHz), although their allocation in the 800MHz band represents only 2 x 5MHz. In practical terms this could disadvantage the performance of their network in areas where only 800MHz is being used. EE has a similar problem but then they own a lot more spectrum in other bands.

Never the less it looks like Three UK are setting themselves up to be one of the main driving forces for competition in the new market for 4G services.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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