I’ll start off this post by posting exactly what Three have said via their blog:
As most of you probably know by now, at Three we’re focused on giving our customers the best mobile internet experience we possibly can.
Since we launched the UK’s first solely 3G network back in 2003, we’ve continued to invest and improve the technology that powers our network to bring you the best data experience.
It was for that reason that last year we invested millions in upgrading our network to the next generation of 3G technology: HSPA+. HSPA+ currently runs on the 21Mbps technical standard, meaning people can now experience download speeds in excess of 10Mbps, and in some cases even faster.
Now, once again, we are going to move the game on and bring another first to the UK market.
We’re now in the process of finalising our plans to roll out what’s being described in the USA* as 4G.
But let’s be absolutely clear – this isn’t 4G as in Long Term Evolution, or LTE as it’s also known.
Instead it’s the leading-edge version of 3G technology – HSPA+ but running on the 42Mbps technical standard, and offering customers twice the speed potential as the 21Mbps technical standard.
HSPA+ “4G” will deliver huge benefits for our customers. The obvious one is speed, with massive improvements in both download and upload speed. Because the technology uses dual carrier equipment – meaning it can latch onto two signals at the same time and transmit and receive double the data – it will also improve capacity across the network too.
Again, for our customers, this will mean more consistent speeds especially in busy areas and at peak times of the day. As our customers use more and more data, moving to HSPA+ will help us create the capacity to continue to offer a great service.
In fact we already have the technology up and running as a test along a small part of the M3 corridor and south west London.
The nationwide rollout is expected to commence later this summer.
As well as continuing the 42Mbps roll out, we’ll 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.
The likelihood is that this leap is still more than a year away at the earliest. But in the meantime, we’ll continue our ongoing network improvement programme to ensure that whatever it is you want to do via the mobile internet, we are the network to be on.
If you didn’t read over that full quoted excerpt then the basics of it are that they are the first in the UK to launch full blown 4G which is not LTE and that it will launch this summer. LTE testing is ongoing and it’s likely that it’s still 1 year away from launch.