UK erupts into full-scale 4G war as Three announces plans

LTE operators have comparisons to the HBO series Game of Thrones; it’s a battle to the top in which the competition only becomes more fierce and the players are willing to get dirty to ascend their superiority.

Three’s announcement of their 4G plans today is the latest, and most disruptive.

4G in the UK witnessed an 11-month period of criticised exclusivity by Orange and T-Mobile’s network collaboration, EE, due to a limited spectrum auction. Over this time, the operator hit negative headlines for their arguably monopolising plans – but built an unstoppable network currently spanning 105 towns and cities.

Rival networks Vodafone and O2 last month announced their humble 4G beginning – launching in London, Leeds and Bradford on 29th August.

Now that very day has arrived, and if anything like me, you may have predicted what else would happen on this day... Three would conveniently/strategically announce their 4G plans. Although not launching until December, Three is the first network to offer the coveted unlimited data plan they cleverly name “All you can Eat” – furthermore, at no additional cost.

Starting at £12.50 for a monthly plan; you can attain UNLIMITED 4G. Not even a fair use policy, nada.

Consumers - myself included - will see this as a much more tempting proposition than the more expensive and data-capped plans currently offered by the other three (no pun intended) networks.

In fact, and everything here forth is personal experience, I switched from GiffGaff (which utilises O2’s network) to Three in preparation and admiration of their free 4G upgrade. With two monthly plans in hand I took the opportunity to travel and switch between networks. Three, even though one of their slogans is “Built for the Internet” – was frustratingly bad, even for standard coverage.

We all live extremely connected lives these days, when friends sat next to me with full signal; web browsing, tweeting, emailing, sending pictures... I stared at a no signal bar and decided from now on it has become my bitter nemesis.

Mark Windle, Head of Marketing at OpenCloud, shares my concern: “Operators need to match their investment in data with investment in innovation and core communication services.”

He continues: “Today, operators buy standard networking products from a limited number of suppliers, with network innovation suffering as a consequence.”

O2 has announced today that both GiffGaff and Tesco Mobile will have access to their 4G network, and I have been told by a source that GiffGaff plan to launch their service by the end of the year.

The upcoming inevitable pricing war will be interesting and great for UK citizens - but for now - I’m sorry for leaving you GiffGaff, take me back?

What do you think about the situation of 4G in the UK, and Three’s announcement?

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