Three is testing an update which will double the speed of its mobile broadband network, but it’s not the real ‘4G’ boost that mobile operators are competing to launch next year.
The upgrade will double the speed of its current HSPA+ network from a maximum speed of 21Mbps to 42Mbps.
In reality, says Three, that will mean dongles and phones getting downloads at up to 20Mbps and it will improve the network’s ability to deliver high speeds in busy areas.
The current trial is running along a small part of the M3 corridor and in south-west London, and will begin a national roll-out in the summer.
“HSPA+ ‘4G’ will deliver huge benefits for our customers,” said Phil Sheppard, director of network strategy at Three UK.
“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.
“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.
Double-speed HSPA+ is called ‘4G’ in America, but in Europe that title is reserved for a technology called Long Term Evolution.
Three said it will launch an LTE trial later this year, and in late 2012 the government will auction new frequencies for operators to launch LTE services.
They’re expected to go live in 2013, and the auction is expected to bring the Treasury a windfall of up to £5billion.