The 4G LTE standard has been slow to roll out in the UK compared to other countries. Currently iPhone 5 owners in the UK (and owners of compatible WiFi+Cellular iPads and iPad minis) have just one option: the carrier EE.
EE is the company that was born from the merger of Orange and T-Mobile. While it started off with a great selling point -- the only 4G carrier in the UK -- customers quickly felt cheated over EE's high monthly tariffs for 4G connections and the relatively low data caps. Many feared this would set a precedent when other UK carriers roll out 4G services later this year.
Today Three announced that when the carrier rolls out its 4G network later this year, all customers with 4G devices will be able to take advantage of the latest speeds at no additional charge. From its press release:
Any customer with an Ultrafast ready device can already enjoy great speeds on Three's Ultrafast network without paying a premium or needing to swap SIM cards or price plans. LTE will be available as standard with all customers' price plans when the roll-out begins later this year.
"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."
There's still no firm word on when Three will actually roll out its 4G network, but I've been told not to expect it before June. Still, with its decision to provide 4G to its customers at no increased price, it's not a stretch to assume that owners of 4G-capable handsets will wait to make the jump to Three instead of paying the inflated prices that EE currently charges. It's important to note that despite offering 4G at the same price of its 3G plans, Three did not say whether it will cap data rates. Hopefully it won't, because it would definitely ruin the goodwill its announcement has instilled in current -- and future -- customers.