Has Three Begun its 4G Rollout?

The launch of 4G from Three has been long awaited, not least due to the network provider’s promise of all-you-can-eat data and free upgrades. But have they already begun a staggered rollout of the 4G service?

4G from ThreeThree had promised that it would start to roll out its 4G network in December, but hadn’t given much more detail than that. As we’re already a third of the way through the month many users were unsurprisingly starting to get a little impatient for news.

Now it would appear that Three is taking a different approach to providers such as Vodafone and O2, who made a big deal of their launch date. It seems that Three is already providing 4G services to a small group of customers who have had the 4G software update on their handsets, and is getting feedback from those customers before it continues to roll out the service.

A blog post on the Three website reads: “We’ve begun the process of enabling all of our customers with 4G ready devices to receive our 4G service.  We’re currently working with a number of them in the first phase of our launch and are paying close attention to their user experience to ensure we get it right before we accelerate the roll-out over the next couple of months.”

Customer Reaction to 4G Rollout

The announcement that Three has begun its 4G rollout with just a few thousand customers, will get mixed reactions from those that were expecting to be able to use the service by Christmas but may now have to wait until February or even March next year. Some customers that have signed up to new contracts with Three believing that they would shortly be getting 4G feel that they have been misled. Others may be happy that Three is thoroughly testing the service before attempting a larger rollout.

The three cities that now have access to 4G from Three appear to be London, Birmingham and Manchester, as previously advertised, but most Three customers in these cities won’t be able to access 4G yet, even if they have 4G enabled devices. Only a handful of devices have had the necessary 4G update, and Three has only undertaken to update all devices in these three areas by the end of Q1 2014.

Despite the delay, 4G from Three still looks like an attractive proposition with the network offering:

  • Free 4G upgrades for customers with a 4G ready device
  • All-you-can-eat data with no limits
  • A great range of 4G ready phones and tablets
  • An easy upgrade using a simple software update

Three asserts that it is still on track to have rolled out 4G in 50 cities by the end of 2014, and that it will be able to provide 4G to 98% of the population by the end of 2015.  It suggests that by February 2014, 1.5 million customers who already have 4G enabled devices will be able to access the Three 4G network.

Many Three customers have been prepared to wait for 4G from Three due to the unlimited data bundles, and the chance to upgrade to 4G for free. Will this latest development have tested the patience of those that were expecting 4G access this side of the New Year, or will the dancing Christmas pony be enough to keep them loyal to Three?