UK MOBILE OPERATOR Three has announced it will roll out 4G mobile broadband services from December this year, arriving at no additional cost for every existing customer.
Three's 4G rollout will begin in three major UK cities, London, Birmingham and Manchester, with no new contract to sign, no extra charges or need to change tariffs.
"All Three customers with a 4G ready device will be able to benefit from 4G at no extra cost with a simple software upgrade, so [there will be] no need to go into a store," Three said, adding that it plans to extend its coverage to 50 UK cities by the end of 2014 and 98 percent of the UK by the end of 2015.
The 3G to 4G service upgrade will also work in conjunction with the network's existing All You Can Eat data bundle [PDF], which starts at £15 a month.
In what we suspect is not a coincidence, Three's announcement arrives on the same day that UK rival networks O2 and Vodafone launch their respective 4G offerings, as the LTE battle in the UK intensifies.
Vodafone's cheapest 4G offering starts from £26 for a 12-month SIM-only deal with 2GB of monthly data. For those looking for a monthly tariff, Vodafone's plans start at £34 a month, while those who are already a customer of the network can upgrade to an LTE contract for an extra £5 per month.
O2's Airtime Plans on O2 Refresh - the tariff designed to allow customers to upgrade their handsets during 24-month contracts - start at £22 a month for 1GB of data and go up to £37 a month for 8GB of data. The monthly device payment will range from £10 to £25, depending on which handset punters choose.
EE's 4G tariffs are perhaps the least attractive of the bunch, as they aren't cheap. EE's least expensive £21 SIM-only deal comes with 500MB of data, with EE's £26, £31, £36, £41 and £61 plans coming with 1GB, 3GB, 5GB, 8GB and 20GB of data, respectively. In terms of pay monthly pricing, EE's contracts start at £26.
However, it's worth noting that Three's 4G network runs on the same spectrum as EE's and is the only spectrum that is compatible with the iPhone 5, meaning that Apple customers will have to choose between EE or Three, or change handsets if they're dead keen on superfast mobile broadband speeds.
Earlier this month, Three boasted that its profits soared 231 percent from last year, despite being the last operator to switch on 4G services.
During its earnings call, Three revealed that it pulled in revenues of £1bn for the first half of 2013, up nine percent year on year. Most impressively however, the network said that its operating profits rose 231 percent to £86m in the six-month period. µ
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