Three rains on O2 and Vodafone's parade with December 4G launch plans


Three has tried to steal Vodafone and O2's 4G launch day thunder by setting out plans to offer the superfast network to some existing customers for no extra cost from December.

The company plans to start rolling out 4G services in London, Birmingham and Manchester from December, according to a Three blog post.

They'll be no new contract to sign, no new SIM and no tariff change.

"Even better than that, we'll be busy rolling out in a further 50 cities by the end of 2014. And, by the end of 2015? Well, we aim to have covered a massive 98 per cent of the population," the post read.

The UK arm of Hutchison Whampoa looks set to be the last of the four big networks to launch its 4G services, but to date is the only one offering it to customers at no extra charge.

The post detailed that every Three customer with a 4G enabled device will be upgraded to the superfast network at no extra cost.

"It'll be easy to switch over too. All that's required is a simple software update," the post continued.

"They'll be no new contract to sign, no new SIM and no tariff change [because] we really want this transition to be as easy as possible for our customers."

The operator also added that its All You Can Eat mobile data plans will still be offered to those who sign up for its 4G services.

"So, get ready for 4G at no extra cost, it'll be here before you know it," the post concluded.

The company acquired 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz spectrum during the Ofcom 4G spectrum auction in February, and also purchased some from EE towards the end of 2012.

The timing of Three's announcement coincides with the launch day for both O2 and Vodafone's 4G networks, and comes a day after EE the first to market with the superfast network in the UK announced that its coverage now stretches to more than 100 towns and cities.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.