Despite being weeks away from knowing whether it was won its spectrum bids, and months away from activating any future 4G LTE mobile network, UK operator Three is already turning the screw on its rival, EE, by promising its customers no upgrade premiums on its LTE services, committing to “offer Ultrafast services as a standard feature on all its smartphone price plans.”
Three, which was able to acquire part of EE’s existing spectrum to boost future superfast services when T-Mobile and Orange merged, said today that it will make its 4G plans available across its existing and new price plans, ensuring that customers won’t be forced into upgrades to enjoy a faster and more reliable service in the UK.
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It comes in contrast to EE, which became the UK’s first 4G operator in October 2012, following its implementation of higher tariffs for consumers that looked to enjoy superfast mobile services.
Given the fact that EE held a monopoly on the market, it came as no surprise, but Three intends to rule out any competitive edge its rival my have when it gets the chance to offer its own LTE services. With O2 and Vodafone also currently engaged in Ofcom’s spectrum auction, it is believed that competition between the UK’s biggest operators will drive down prices and boost 4G offerings when the networks roll out in late spring/early summer.
Three currently offers 55 percent of the UK population access to its DC-HSDPA networks (3.5G), targeting 50 towns and cities. The company says that it intends to cover 80 percent of the population by the end of March, and will incorporate 1800MHz it acquired from EE in the second half of 2013.
The UK’s communications regulator is currently overseeing the UK’s 4G auction, which is being contested by seven bidders vying for 28 lots of spectrum. The regulator is also considering lifting restrictions placed on 2G and 3G networks, that would allow operators to repurpose their older spectrum to supplement their new 4G services.