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Three could be next network to launch 4G

Mobile network Three could be the next operator to launch a 4G data service, months ahead of its rivals.

According to online tech magazine CNET (opens in new tab), as part of a deal with Ofcom when T-Mobile and Orange merged, EE had to sell part of its 4G 1800MHz spectrum to rival Three.

Using this spectrum, Three could launch its own 4G service months ahead of competitors who have to wait until January for the Ofcom auction on the 800Mhz and 2,600Mhz spectrum, with plans to roll it out by May 2013.

The only drawback for Three is part of the agreement with EE which stipulates that it must obtain permission from the mobile network before it can launch 4G, meaning EE could withhold permission until other rivals have finished bidding.

According to CNET, a Three spokesperson said the company were considering launching DC-HSDPA, an improved form of 3G instead of 4G. The firm says it can provide speeds of around 12Mbps which it says is more than adequate for the everyday smartphone user considering 4G's LTE averages around 14Mbps.

The network pointed out that 4-6Mbps is enough for most people.

Yesterday, EE was the first network to launch its 4G (opens in new tab) service across 11 cities in the UK. It is expected to be five times faster than 3G and will be available on handset like the iPhone 5 (opens in new tab) and Samsung Galaxy S3 (opens in new tab) LTE.