Network to go live in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Reading, with 50 cities covered by the end of next year
Three has begun rolling out 4G, becoming the final mobile operator to do so.
It began on December 2 across London, Manchester, Birmingham and Reading, with Three upgrading customers with a 4G ready device.
The rollout will accelerate into the new year, with all customers with a compatible device able to access 4G by the end of Q1 2014 provided they are in a 4G area.
Three is aiming to have eight million customers on a 4G tariff at the end of Q1 2014, 50 cities covered by the end of next year and 98 per cent of the population covered by the end of 2015.
Unlike rival operators, Three is providing 4G at no extra cost, meaning customers can use their existing 3G monthly price plans for the new service.
Three chief executive Dave Dyson said: “We are building a brand and network that encourages and enables customers to enjoy the mobile internet. Customers are using more data than ever on Three, far more than on any other network. As we add 4G capacity to the network, this experience will only get better.”
Three announced it had invested £225,000 to secure spectrum of 2x5MHz in the 800MHz band.
This morning, EE switched on 4G in 10 cities with a further 19 to follow before Christmas. With those additions, it will have launched 4G in 160 towns and cities in the next three weeks. Last month, it revealed it had added 493,000 4G customers in Q3, taking that total base to 1.2 million.
O2 and Vodafone both launched their 4G networks on August 29. On November 19, O2 said it had reached its 4G rollout target for this year six weeks early after switching on the network in Newcastle and Edinburgh. The service is now live in 13 cities and around 100 surrounding towns. O2 has so far declined to reveal 4G customer numbers.
Vodafone has so far rolled out 4G to 12 UK cities and more than 80 towns and districts in and around London and the South East. On November 12, it revealed it had more than 200,000 4G customers since launch.