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Three to bundle 4G mobile with 'no price premium'

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Three has today confirmed that it will offer Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in Britain later this year, and will market the 4G to customers as standard with "no price premium".

The Hutchison Whampoa-owned firm today made a "public commitment" that it will offer ultrafast mobile services as a "standard feature" to consumers.

LTE will be added to Three's network later in the year, and the carrier said that "unlike some other UK mobile operators", it will be "available across all existing and new price plans without customers needing to pay a premium fee to 'upgrade'".

A customer gets to grips with her white iPhone 5 in Hong Kong.

© PA Images / Kin Cheung / AP

Blackberry 10


Ofcom is currently running an auction of spectrum for the broader launch of superfast 4G services in Britain in 2013. But Three is able to confirm its 4G plans now as it will instead use adapted 1800 Mhz spectrum acquired from EE last year.

EE secured permission from Ofcom to repurpose the 1800Mhz spectrum to deliver 4G, supporting mobile internet speeds around five times faster than 3G.

EE, the joint venture of T-Mobile and Orange, started marketing 4G to UK customers in autumn 2012, but on separate price plans, starting from £36 per month for just 500MB of data (that has since dropped to £31 per month).

Three said that its network, supported by DC-HSDPA technology and 'fat pipe' connections, currently coves just 55% of the UK population, but it expects to have increased that to 80% by the end of March.

The 1800Mhz spectrum acquired from EE will be incorporated in the second half of this year, boosting Three's available capacity and also enabling the firm to upgrade to 4G.

"Our customers choose Three because they love the internet and know they can get great speeds and great value on our award-winning network," said Three UK chief executive Dave Dyson.

"As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we've listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it.

"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."

Any customers with compatible 4G devices, such as Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S3 or, Apple iPad mini, will be able to use Three's 1800Mhz spectrum for LTE when it launches.

More 4G-ready handsets, such as the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, will be added over the coming months.

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