back to article Not got 4G? There's a reason we aren't called 'Four', sniffs Three

Ofcom designed its 4G auction so there would be four winners - but the UK's fourth player is in no rush to turn on 4G-LTE. In fact, it thinks 3G connectivity is not all that different from 4G. Three UK says its 4G mobile broadband service will go live later rather than soon. UK CEO David Dyson said today that the upgrade would …

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Anonymous Coward

Fair point

If they can do it within the 3G spectrum, why bother paying for the extra they bought.

And if the ridiculous EE pricing is anything to go by, all the more reason to stick with 3G.

Agreed about the customer retentions' aggravations. They dont do good deals anymore.

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Re: Fair point

I wonder if it was more to do with stopping a competitor. Imagine if NewMobileCo had got that bit of the 4G auction and set up in competition with everyone else, including 3?

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Re: Fair point

the 'extra ' they bought included the lower freqs, to improve the signal inside buildings... :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fair point

LTE can fit more data in the same space as 3G. It actually saves networks money eventually.

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"In fact, it thinks 3G connectivity is not all that different from 4G."

I am on three atm and tbh im getting 20mb/s connection... I speed tested someones EE connection at work and they got 30mb/s.

I don't see the benefits of an extra 10mb/s bandwidth on a phone... Granted though it could help three more if they upped to 4G because they allow tethering, Which would benefit though's who use their phones for their laptops internet gateway. I would concentrate more on stronger signals tbh.

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Re: "In fact, it thinks 3G connectivity is not all that different from 4G."

That's the weirdest misspelling of "those" I've ever seen!

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Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

... getting 6Mb/s down, 1.5 up with a latency of 80ms. Bandwidth better than my Sky Broadband, latency only 10-15ms worse. Using around 8GB/mo and paying 15GBP for it PAYG.

I'm certainly not going to leave Three to get 4G!

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

how are you getting8gb on PAYG? just curious as relying on three whilst openreach take 6 weeks to attach house to trunk and cheapest payg i can see near that amount is 7gb/£25?

In forest of dean and three is lightning fast where as giff gaff (o2) is gsm only and slow as treacle

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

i'm curious too, my father in law is on a 5gb dongle rolling contract for £15 a month. Good speeds, about 7Mb constant. My mobile gets about 6Mb nowadays. Decent latency and the upload is about 2Mb so I can upload things easily.

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

7GB/£25?

Go on a rolling monthly contract ffs. That £25 gives me as much data as I can download. Also 2500 minutes of calls to anybody and a gazillion and one texts.

Seriously. 50GB+ a few months ago. I'm not always dragging anywhere near that much down, but it's nice to know that I can.

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

For new customers, Three have two pure broadband offers:

1. 15GB for £15.99 pcm on 24 month contract (dongle included).

2. 10GB for £15 on a rolling 1 month contract (SIM only).

However, if you are an existing customer on an older plan it is worth contacting Three customer services; shortly before Christmas Three offered to upgrade my old 5GB for £15 rolling 1 month contract, to 15GB for £15.99 pcm rolling contract, which I naturally accepted, given my son has discovered the Lego movies and Super Mario game video's on YouTube...

I've found there can be a difference in the mobile broadband coverage between the Broadband only and the Phone services: in my area I get broadband without problems, however the phone rarely connects...

Finally, Three do block the use of a phone registered SIM in a broadband only device, and hence I suspect they also block phone tethering on PAYG.

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

i was only supposed to be without landline for 1 week now going on to 4 (with no resolution in sight)due to openreachs incompetence (1 guy on holiday the whole thing stops) so was not worth getting a contract. Will do now but get the monthly rolling one

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Re: how are you getting8gb on PAYG?

Sounds like they're on the same deal I use - buy a PAYG SIM for 99p, top up £15 a month to get 300min/3000txts/AYCE data. The only small issue is the T&Cs explicitly prohibit tethering, though on the odd occasion I've needed to it's never prompted any action from them.

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Re: Tethered to Three in rurual Warwickshire...

>the monthly rolling one

Two words of warning:

1. The initial allowance is for the period between the account going live and the first bill ie. approximately a month. The online system will misreport the number of days remaining during this period, but will give the correct figure for the amount of data used.

2. It is expensive to go over your allowance, so once SIM is live I recommend calling Three customer services and putting a hard bar on the data limit, so that you can never go over your limit - it will tend to block the account when you are within ~200MB of your limit.

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Happy

Re: how are you getting8gb on PAYG?

Hmmm, I've been using their wonderful all you can eat data for UKP15 over a year, tethered, and not had any problems yet. Getting excellent speeds and reliability. I can also tether my laptop and tablet through the same 3G phone (an ageing Nokia N95). I can take it with me everywhere I go. Fixed line - what would be the point?

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I'm with 3 myself

And I can honestly say I've never had a problem with them. Unless I'm in rural Cambridgeshire, and then they suck worse than a busted Dyson.

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FAIL

Re: I was afflicted with 3 myself - but not any more!

Unfortunately, Three are a complete joke in most of London. They have less than one hundredth of the capacity of even the execrable "Nothing Anywhere", and it's seldom possible to get any kind of connection at all. When you do, it's at rates much worse than GSM data....

There isn't a competent, fairly priced mobile service of any kind in Britain.

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Re: I'm with 3 myself

So they dont suck at all then?

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I use three and love them - their sale's line is crap but then most others are as well. I also get better bandwidth on my phone and tethered than my broadband (Sky).Coverage is also excellent...I've used Vodafone, o2 && EE and going from Exeter to Paddington Three blows the others away!!!

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I'm a very happy 3 customer. 3G speeds are amazing and more than enough for mobile use. My average is 13 Mbps download & just over 2 MBps upload, which is excellent.

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FAIL

4G - what is the point...

4G is totally pointless, on my phone i look at twitter, facebook, email and some web. Mega fast broadband is not going to help me. The dumb limits on 4G prevent you from streaming anything / downloading anything.

So i reiterate - what is the point. I would rather the mobile companies spent the money getting us 3G everywhere, i dont just mean 98% of the population, i mean everywhere.

Also, try Three out in the wilds of scotland and Shetland - you will be glad you went with Vodafone or O2.

The Dancing Pony add is a case in point - I know where its filmed on Shetland and i can tell you there is bugger all Three signal there. I was thinking of complaining to the ASA about it. :D

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Re: 4G - what is the point...

Not just Scotland, try such 3G-forsaken places as the West Country. Often you're lucky to get a voice signal with 3, and as they do 3G or nothing (no 2G) you just don't get data down there in a lot of places.

It's improving steadily but it's still a pitiful service outside of main conurbations and towns.

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Coat

Re: 4G - what is the point...

You aren't doing things like

- Looking at the latest Celeb making an utter fool of themselves on social media

- Downloading the latest blockbluster from netflix/lovefilm/etc and viewing it on a stupidly small screen

- Part of the generation that needs to be on-line all the time to get their latest fix of social media.

(seeing all the withdrawal symptoms on a flight LFR->LAX recently makes me believe that a whole generation of young people are totally addicted to instant communication/gratification. The OMG, no one has liked me in what 20 minutes, I'm a complete failure.)

etc, etc ,etc

Frankly if you can't be without this sort of stuff then you should be taken to an island in the middle of nowhere and left there without a mobile phone/tablet/pc until you are cured.

mines the one with a nokia 6130 in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 4G - what is the point...

Simple:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectral_efficiency

4G is better than 3G at spectral efficiency. More speed in less space.

Not to mention better latency.

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Re: 4G - what is the point...

And more reliable switching between cells when travelling at speed (e.g. when you have to work on a train), more consistent signal quality in general. If you think that mobile data use is limited to social media and video streaming that probably says more about how you use it than what anyone else is doing. Some of us have to rely on mobile data as our primary Internet connection when, for example, working away from home.

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HMB

Re: 4G - what is the point...

I've been with 3 for ages and I haven't had your troubles in the West Country. I've only had trouble with 3 in Scotland myself.

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Re: 4G - what is the point...

(seeing all the withdrawal symptoms on a flight LFR->LAX recently makes me believe that a whole generation of young people are totally addicted to instant communication/gratification. The OMG, no one has liked me in what 20 minutes, I'm a complete failure.)

You again? Oh no, are all those horrid young people still offending you with their desire to use technology rather than sit and stare at the back of the seat in front?

I was recently on a flight from Heathrow to Vancouver, and given that I was in a small seat for ten hours with moaning sods like you running like scared children from my deadly, vicious, killer...sleeping cat (not a euphemism), I was very glad to have my laptop and an X-box controller with me.

My thinking went something like this:

"Hmmm....I could be a boring fuck and stare sullenly at this boring person's boring head... There's only so many hours I can code in one stretch.... I could play Blur on the laptop? Hey, look at that, the guy next to me has a controller too! TWO PLAYER! Man, am I glad I'm not a miserable old shit who'd give up making friends and enjoying himself for the sake of being a smug elitist."

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I'll echo the comments above...

I'm a contract Vodafone punter; their 3G service is patchy at best - I hardly have a 3G signal where I live in south London, and going through Newbury, where their headquarters are, is often an exercise in aggravation. I'll grant that their 2G signals are better, but when you pay for the extra bandwidth to get a gig a month, you do tend to expect better. 3, on the other hand, have been outstanding. I use one of their PAYG dongles on my notebook, and like those above, they've never let me down.

As to 4G, given that most reviews of 4G-capable phones state that there's a massive problem with the battery consumption of those devices, why on Earth would I want a device that needs charging every six to twelve hours? The added connection speed that 4G seems to offer - coupled with the limited number of areas that it's being set up in - just doesn't seem to make the added battery aggravation seem worth it, frankly.

My Vodafone contact expires in seven or eight months time; it's therefore quite obvious who'll be getting my business at that time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'll echo the comments above...

There lies the problem - I switched to three for my mobile and while the DATA coverage was good the VOICE coverage was poor. I've switched back to Vodafone for my 'phone' and noticed their data coverage has improved substantially - was getting something like 16mbps down and over 3mbps up the other day.

Vodafone also give unlimited calls and texts and with 'Red Business' let you tie a land line number to your mobile - great idea and don't think anyone else does?

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Re: I'll echo the comments above...

I was on Vodafone for a few years, yes the 3g was slow and patchy, but I believed that was the best out there.

Last month I changed to T-mobile (combines EE and Orange signal too) wow I never knew how good 3g can be, I can stream videos and internet radio all the time, similar to my home wifi connection.

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Re: I'll echo the comments above...

yeah, I mainly use my phone for data and voda are bloody awful.

One month to go before I can cut them loose and move over to 3.

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zoom zoom

i just did a test with speedtest on my sony xperia z currently on O2s HSDPA+ network - got 13.3mb download and 2.2mb upload! That's twice as bloody fast as my fixed broadband connection at home...which quite frankly, annoys me a little bit.

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We've had 4g for a while stateside. I'm no huge advocate for it but in theory there are two advantages, lower latency (although this may not be an issue for people) and the fact you can fit more data in the same spectrum in the long term so there i potential for either lower costs or higher allowances for the same cost.

The reality is probably nowhere near that, many won't notice the latency and providers are unlikely to pass on much benefit because they are recouping the rollout cost, so 3g probably does look good right now. That will probably change in the future. 3g looked pretty naff compared to 2.5g edge when it rolled out. Yay sucky battery life and expensive videocalling (but now its on an iphone its cool!) etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Latency is largely a factor is the speed not just the technology and for most people checking their email, browsing the web, updating Facebook etc. or even just streaming some video it's unlikely to be an issue.

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Anonymous Coward

Latency is a pain when you request a webpage and the actual wait for it to send the request is longer than the download for the page.

This was the whole issue with satellite broadband.

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Anonymous Coward

Ok but the latency difference for most normal tasks on a similar speed 3G or 4G service is unlikely to be an issue.

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Outside of skype et al, yes, it's unlikely to be noticed. It does get noticed when using ssh as well but thats not really something your average phone user will be doing.

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Anonymous Coward

What matters to virtually anyone is the actual achieved speed and coverage - not what it's called - i.e. LTE or HSPA+ etc. I'd rather have a high speed 3G signal 'most' places than a patchy LTE signal - I have a EE LTE MiFi and an equivalent DC-HSPA one with a Three SIM and another with Vodafone - quite often see similar speeds from each (certainly up around 20mbit/s) - although the EE one usually gets higher upload speeds.

Difference is the Three one gives up to 15Gb/mo for £15.99 whereas the deal I have with EE gives 5Gb/mo for that cost.

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Boffin

It depends, though.

I care more of actual achieved speed as well, but something I do hate is to be lied. Three is being really good at going out and stating that HSPA+ is 3G. Meanwhile, a couple of operators are outright lying and saying that HSPA+ is "4G". Even worse when they end up charging the "4G" tax on HSPA+ capable devices...

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Stop

Not where I work it isn't

Central London, and on 3 I'm getting about 1% of LTE performance (240K down and 60K up, vs 20Mbit down and 17Mbit up on EE). Talk about battery life is also a non-issue for most folk. The original 1st generation of LTE chipsets were a bit power hungry, but the second generation fixed that and it really isn't a problem.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not where I work it isn't

Is that EE 3g or 4G? since if its 4G that is down to low contention, I suspect there are some transmitter issues with three if your getting those bad speeds, I'd contact them to find out what was up

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Re: Not where I work it isn't

i'm also in central london (13.3DL, 2.2UL on HSPA+)

you got your mobile data turned on?

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Re: Not where I work it isn't

3 doesnt give me any issues on the main train stations in london. It is always quick for me and I would think the train stations are big sinks for data.

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Re: Not where I work it isn't

This is in the financial district, right next to a train station. At lunch time is slows to a crawl. This time of day it's back up to about 500k (and I get the same effect if I dissable LTE and fall back to 3G with EE BTW, so it isn't something specific to 3). The network just can't handle the load, that's the problem.

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Speed

I just did a speed test in the middle of Manchester and got a magnificent 455kbps down and 652kbps up. At home I barely get a signal and have to use their Home Signal box.

Boo.

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Stop

Running before they can walk

Given that no operator has full coverage for 3G so every user gets a reliable, fast and solid connection, why should any of them bother with 4G right now?

Those operators moving to 4G will most likely concentrate on the areas that already have a good 3G service, which will only widen the service gap even further.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Running before they can walk

Spectral efficiency.

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why would you need retentions, no need to leave.

"The network also claimed 900,000 net additions in users last year, while contract churn fell from 1.7 per cent in 2011 to 1.5 per cent in 2012. All of which is hard to imagine if you've ever hard to deal with its ironically named "retentions department". Ahem."

Although if you've used it's vastly superior network for data (which is all I care about) you'd have zero reason to call retentions - they retain customers like me by providing really really good 3G service. I've zero interest in 4G right now - coverage is patchy, the only provider out there sucks bad, and actually I find 12-15 meg download speeds and 2-4 meg up off my mobile perfectly decent.

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Re: why would you need retentions, no need to leave.

"if you've used it's vastly superior network for data (which is all I care about) you'd have zero reason to call retentions - they retain customers like me by providing really really good 3G service"

YMMV. Mine certainly did, and ended up leaving 3 for GiffGaff (who use/basically are O2) and I get much better throughput and reliability now. Only used for data (the SIMs in an iPad). 3's retentions department were awful. But like I say, it's horses for courses as always with mobile providers - what works well for one person is useless to another.

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Anonymous Coward

Oversold & Overhyped

I think 4G or LtE or whatever, is just being oversold, both by the Goverment and Operators alike to shaft the consumers in the end.

Ridiculous pricng and overhyped speed. Like someone said, Whats the point if you are gonna use up your data at 3 or 50 times the speed? IS it so much use in the real world?

Doubt it.

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