A first hands on with 4G from Three UK

For UK mobile consumers there is just one main network left to join the 4G party and that's Three. As most folk will be aware - EE, Vodafone and O2 have already launched LTE across Great Britain, although EE are clearly leading the way as they had a big head start. 

This means that Three have some catching up to do. The network recently rolled out 4G to a select few thousand people for testing, however things are now very close to rolling out across four UK cities (mid February at the latest) - with a total of 50 being covered later in the year. I think I'm right in saying that they expect to have 98% of the population covered by the end of 2015. 

I was lucky enough to test out Three's 4G network recently at a special event for a handful of bloggers. As you will see from the above video, the speeds were certainly impressive, although once this things rolls out to the masses we should see the speeds settle down and be on par with the other 4G carriers, so expect an average download speed of between 12-20mbps - that's still more than adequate for streaming the likes of movies and music. 

You'll also see that I put my own Three smartphone (with a 3G SIM) up against the 4G ones and the difference in speeds was pretty huge. If you already own a 4G compatible iOS device you won't have to do anything to get the enhanced data speeds. All Three customers with a 4G smartphone will automatically switch over to 4G when in an area with coverage and the best part is that they are sticking to their promise and not increasing prices for the privilege of using 4G - unlike all the other UK networks. This will be the one thing that sets them apart from the competition. 

Three already have some great value plans - in particular with 'All You Can Eat' data - something that I've taken advantage of for some time now. You can't really beat it. Sure, here in the UK we are way behind some other countries in terms of LTE, but we're getting there slowly. 

Will you be making the switch over to Three for their 4G at no extra cost? Let us know in the comments. 

For Three customers you may want to keep an eye on the coverage checker to see when the 4G service is available in your area.

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Reader comments

A first hands on with 4G from Three UK


...about an hour ago.

I'm also not in a big city, I'm in a market town outside Winchester.

Yes it will. Three network 4g spectrum will be 1800 mhz and 800mhz. I believe London and other big cities will be using both of these frequencies. The orginal iphone 5 is 1800mhz compatible. For your information the iphone 5S and 5C runs on both 1800 and 800 mhz.

If you read what Three UK are saying very carefully, the price promise only seems to apply to people who own a 4G-capable device at the time of official 4G rollout...or am I missing something...? Maybe iMore could ask for a comment from Three UK on that?

I have been part of the few thousand lucky people in the THREE 4G trial and I have to tell you that the speeds are indeed fantastic. Better than BT infinity or any home wifi network. It is also want my speeds on normal 3G are faster too - I am getting better signal all round.

Sent from the iMore App

Any news on when Three are going to add Visual Voicemail support? O2 of course have this, EE added it last year and extended it also to Orange, and I believe EE plan to eventually add it to T-Mobile.

This leaves just Vodafone and Three (and all the virtual MNOs) as the laggards in the UK.

Lack of Visual Voicemail is the only reason I have not already switched to Three.

I'm in York, my local mast is leeds and I was getting 2mb/s. Switched it to Manchester and got almost 16mb/s can't wait for three to get round to upgrading us. But they leave us until last with all upgrades.

I've had 4G in south central London for two weeks now - it arrived unannounced, my iPhone5 just started picking it up. So I have unlimited 4G for £12.90 a month. EE charge more for 500mb, so it's not to be sniffed at.

I in Leeds and 3's 4g is expected to be rolled out any time soon but my s4 was some how showing a 4g signal today whilest I was at school

Not sure how much difference 4g will make. Using ookla speed test, I can already get 25.56mbps on dc-hsdpa on my nexus 5. Maybe it will give better round coverage at that speed?