updated 07:38 am EST, Mon February 4, 2013
Existing 3G-service customers to access 4G LTE when rolled out
British carrier Three is planning to offer 4G service without requiring any changes to existing contracts, including those with an unlimited data allowance. Customers will be able to access the 4G signal on current 3G contracts without needing to pay a premium or lose any of their existing data allowance, so long as they are using smartphones capable of connecting to it, and are in an area covered by the signal.
Three UK chief executive Dave Dyson explained that the company made the decision after much deliberation and listening to customers. "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."
The company's Ultrafast network, currently using DC-HSDPA, currently covers 55-percent of the UK population and will expand to 80-percent by March. In the second half of the year, Three will be incorporating the 1800MHz spectrum into the Ultrafast network, though it isn't clear exactly when LTE technology is going to be incorporated. Currently, Three claims that 43-percent of mobile-based Internet access goes through it, with the first 4G network in the UK, Everything Everywhere, trailing with 24-percent.
Though Three will be getting some of its 4G service early, courtesy of a deal with EE, it could get a lot more spectrum to use in the future. The current 2.6GHz and 800MHz range spectrum auctions are underway, and Ofcom has also expressed a desire to liberalize the existing 900MHz, 1800MHz, and 2100MHz spectrum, allowing for LTE service to be offered through other spectrum bands.