3 UK, the country’s smallest operator, has said it will offer LTE as a standard feature on its smartphone price plans when its service launches later in 2013.
“Unlike some other UK mobile operators”, 3’s LTE service will be “available across all existing and new price plans without customers needing to pay a premium fee to ‘upgrade’”.
3 subscribers with a compatible device using their existing SIM and contract will be able to access the operator’s LTE network rather than needing to upgrade their package.
As the UK’s smallest operator, 3 has always adopted the role of feisty outsider who has gained customers by undercutting its larger rivals, the same strategy it is now pursuing with LTE.
Everything Everywhere is the only UK operator to have launched a LTE service to date.
Its service launched in autumn last year with tariffs that capped subscribers’ monthly data allowance. A monthly ‘add-on’ has to be bought when a subscriber exceeds their allowance.
Historically operators in the UK and elsewhere have charged a premium for new, faster mobile network technology. 3’s move would run counter to that trend.
The LTE-compatible devices available to Three subscribers include the Apple iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 920, Sony Xperia Z, Apple iPad mini and Apple iPad with Retina display.
LTE versions of the Samsung Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II will be launched for 3 subscribers within the next month. And the BlackBerry Z10 will be available in mid-February.