Three has launched a next generation price war with the operator revealing all customers will be able to upgrade to a 4G service when it is launched later this year at no extra cost.
The move flies in the face of rivals' intentions to launch a price premium for 4G tariffs and also means Three customers will be able to use unlimited 4G data. EE has been criticised by some consumers for the cost of its 4G service, which it launched in October this year, although it does offer extra services with 4G tariffs. Its heavy user tariff, which gives customers a 4G handset, is currently on offer at £61 per month throughout February. Rivals O2 and Vodafone have spoken of the need to charge extra for next generation services.
Three is currently rolling out its dual-carrier HSDPA technology, which covers 55% of the UK's population. This coverage wil hit 80% by the end of March and during the second half of this year it will incorporate the 1800MHz spectrum it bought from EE in 2012. Any consumer with a DC-HSDPA enabled handset, such as the iPhone 5, will be able to upgrade to an LTE service at no extra cost when Three turns on LTE later this year.
Dave Dyson, Three CEO, said: '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.'
The operator's increase in market share has largely been driven by its unlimited data offer. While it only has a 10% share of the mobile market, Three accounts for 43% of all mobile data. In December, it did float the possibility that All-You-Can-Eat data could come to an end. Three's head of network strategy Phil Sheppard said there might be changes to its tariffs. However, today's move shows its appetite for unlimited data shows no sign of abating.
Author: Graeme Neill