Three has made a big announcement that, on the face of it, will be music to the ears of frustrated smartphone users in the UK. A working 4G network is coming this summer thanks to Three. Great news, until, that is, you realise that it’s not really 4G at all but a boosted form of 3G.
The auction to sell off the spectrum to be used for 4G has still not taken place and won’t for some months (years?) and although Everything Everywhere is investigating the possibility of using spectrum re-farming to bring a working 4G network to the UK this year, in reality we’ll be waiting until late 2013 at the very earliest before we get real 4G in the UK.
What Three’s announcement is really saying is that it will be rolling out an HSPA 4G network and not the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network which would significantly boost mobile data speeds.
The HSPA 4G network, which is the one used by T-Mobile in the US, will double the speeds of the current HSPA network to 42Mbps, which is great, but no where near the 100Mbps speeds possible with LTE 4G.
Three UK is already trialling the HSPA 4G network and will be rolling it out across the UK this summer. Three also said that as well as continuing the 42Mbps roll out, it will "also be running our own Long Term Evolution (LTE) trial in the next few months to get ourselves prepared for this technology, when the spectrum needed to run it is made available."