With EE now offering 4G LTE to consumers in the UK the pressure is on for the other operators to respond. Three have done so by issuing a statement showing how their network is growing and outlining their continued roll-out of their DC-HSDPA network.
DC-HSDPA offers super-fast broadband to users in the UK that in some cases is up to 85 per cent as fast as 4G networks. Essentially, it combines two HSDPA signals into one using dual-carrier technology and therefore offers double the speeds of standard HSPA networks.
Three have already made DC-HSDPA available to 39 per cent of customers across the UK and that figure should increase to 50 per cent by the end of 2012. They are also improving the network all the time with both coverage and speeds being improved continuously in 50 major UK cities !
Three have added over a million new customers to their network over the last year and some of those customers are already benefits from speeds of over 20Mbps on DC-HSPA devices. Devices already available from Three that support DC-HSDPA include the iPhone 5, Xperia T, iPad Mini and the iPad.
Three also confirmed that they would begin rolling out 4G LTE in 2013, but the details are still very sketchy. No further details where given other than that they've be using the 1800MHz spectrum, which they obtained from EE earlier in the year.
The problem Three face is that they have to wait until EE give them permission to use the spectrum, which they are unlikely to do in the short term. The European Commission has set a deadline of September 3013 for EE to release the spectrum and Three's CEO has also revealed that they Three won't roll-out 4G until September.
Three could still bid in the 4G auctions which are due to begin early next year, but we get the impression that they don't plan to do so. Three's strategy seems to be to keep improving their DC-HSDPA network and wait until they can launch 4G using the spectrum they obtained from EE.
3G think this could be a smart move because DC-HSDPA is already pretty fast and Three will save a huge amount of money by not bidding in the 4G auctions. Furthermore, they'll still be able to offer 4G in the UK just a couple of months after the other operators. Although, it will have been a full year since EE's 4G LTE roll-out by then.