Three to launch 4G in three UK cities by December

Summary:Three might be trailing its rivals on 4G, but it's hoping to undercut them on price.

Three, the fourth entrant to the UK's growing 4G market, says it will launch its LTE network in December starting with London, Birmingham, and Manchester.

Three's announcement comes as Vodafone launched its 4G network in London today , while O2 switched on its own LTE offering in London, Leeds, and Bradford. 

Three is taking a different tack to its 4G service compared with EE, O2, and Vodafone, treating the rollout as a general upgrade to the experience on its 3G network. 

When it does launch in December, the operator will be offering any customers in the three cities who have a 4G-compatible device a 4G service at no extra cost via a software update. Three took a similar approach in Sweden and Denmark, upgrading all customers with a 4G device to fourth-generation services as soon as the network covered their area.

O2 and Vodafone have released distinct 4G plans with prices starting at £26 a month for SIM-only 12 month contracts. At that price O2 and EE offer a 1GB monthly allowance, while Vodafone offers a 2GB allowance.

With prices removed from the equation for Three, network quality and coverage become important. Three plans for its 4G network to reach 50 cities by the end of 2014, though it hasn't said which ones, and 98 percent of the population by 2015.

EE this week announced it had reached 105 towns and claims to cover 60 percent of the population with its 4G service. It's also gradually upgrading its network to deliver average download speeds of 24Mbps to 30Mbps. EE plans to cover 98 percent of the population by the end of 2014.

Vodafone will cover seven towns and cities by the end of the month and plans to reach 98 percent of the population by 2015.

Meanwhile, O2's 4G spectrum license requires it to cover 98 percent of the population by 2017. It currently covers London, Leeds, and Bradford and plans to have covered 10 other major cities by the end of the year.

Topics: 4G, EU, Mobility


Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, s... Full Bio

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