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Three won't charge extra for 4G services

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Mobile network Three has announced that it will add Long Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity to its existing price plans free of charge - bringing the first signs of competition to the 4G market, currently dominated by T-Mobile and Orange via joint venture EE.

Where EE's LTE high-speed connections require a significant financial outlay, Three has confirmed that customers on what it calls its "Ultrafast network" - which currently uses DC-HSDPA to provide high-speed connectivity to around 55 per cent of the UK's population - will receive the speed boost free of charge when the network is upgraded later this year. Customers will not be asked to sign up for an additional contract period, pay any extra or swap out to a new SIM card or number, the company claims.

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

Three's implementation of LTE mobile broadband, which we reported on in detail last month, will be based on the 1800MHz spectum it acquired last year, which makes it compatible with handsets including the iPhone 5, Lumia 920 and Xperia Z. Three is also to launch additional LTE-compatible handsets, the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE and Galaxy Note 2 LTE, later this month, along with the new BlackBerry Z10.

Currently, Three's "Ultrafast" network covers 55 per cent of the UK population, with planned expansion to bring it to 80 per cent by the end of March. Three has not yet provided a firm roll-out date for the upgrade to 4G LTE connectivity, however, stating only that the process will begin "later this year."

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