Three in no rush to launch 4G network

Allan Swann
March 26, 2013

Three Mobile used the government’s 4G auction to pick up mobile spectrum to launch the next generation of high speed smartphone broadband, alongside the additional spectrum it purchased from Everything Everywhere (owners of EE, Orange and T-Mobile).

However, CEO David Dyson says the company is in no rush to roll out a new 4G LTE network, preferring instead to sit on its 3.5G HSPA+ network it has been rolling out over the past 18 months.

We’re in no rush to launch LTE,” Dyson said. “First we’ll see how 4G is positioned by O2 and Vodafone and look at how we position it. I’m fairly relaxed about it.”

Currently only EE has an operating 4G LTE network, although Vodafone and O2 are expected to launch their networks in the coming months.

Speaking at his company’s annual financial results, Dyson says the company’s existing HSPA+ network has been getting excellent feedback.

Three’s current 4G/LTE plan is to roll it out in areas where demand for it is highest, as a free upgrade for its its Ultrafast plans. O2, Vodafone and EE have offered 4G as a ‘step-change’ requiring a new contract for consumers.

Dyson confirmed the network did not plan to charge customers extra for the service as long as they have a phone capable of handling the speed (most current generation phones won’t run 4G LTE unless they have the appropriate radio antenna to do so).

All handsets marketed as ‘4G-ready’ will be able to use the Three HSPA+ and (eventual) 4G network.

Ultrafast will take time to build awareness of just as customers understanding of 4G will,” he added.

Hutchison Whampoa (Three’s owner) released its 2012 results, showing a gain of 900,000 new customers. This takes its customer base to 9.1 million, while Three UK’s revenue was up 9% to £1.95 billion.

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