When mobile network Three launches its next-generation 5G service next month it will come at no extra cost to both its new and existing customers.
New contracts will carry 5G compatibility as standard, whilst existing contracts can take advantage of the new technology free-of-charge so long as the user has a 5G-compatible device.
Both Vodafone and EE have already launched their own iterations of the 5G technology in some larger cities across the UK, but Three’s version is set to undercut both providers when its service launches in August.
The cheapest sim-only deal from EE for 5G connectivity currently costs £32 per month and comes with a 20GB download limit.
Vodafone currently offers a £23 per month for a sim-only deal, but with speeds slower than 4G as it limits downloads to just 2Mbps. It’s full 5G service is closer in price to EE’s offering, coming in at £30 per month.
Three looks to blow both deals out of the water by offering 5G services for the same price it currently charges for 4G connectivity. This means customers can enjoy unrestricted data speeds for £22 per month, along with no download limitations.
A spokesperson for Three told the BBC that there would be “absolutely no throttling” and that "our 5G is completely unrestricted and there no catches."
O2 will be coming late to the 5G game, having announced its plans to launch its 5G services across major cities in the UK this coming October.
Despite trialling technology from Chinese company Huawei, it will be the only major mobile network not to use Huawei’s services, having opted for technology from Ericsson and Nokia.
Next-generation 5G technology offers much faster download speeds for end users, but also allows for greater network capacity. This means that users should experience smooth connectivity even when network usage is high, such as at festivals or concerts.
Three was criticised last week for resisting calls from Ofcom for network operators to automatically move customers onto cheaper tariffs when their initial contract period expires. Ofcom stated that Three’s customers would end up overpaying unless they were proactive about finding a different tariff.
However, Three countered the watchdog’s claim, arguing that automatically moving customers to a cheaper deal would turn the market stale as networks wouldn’t compete to win the business of new customers
“It risks creating a stagnant market whereby consumers are not encouraged to shop around for the best deal at the end of their minimum term,” a spokesperson said.
Kester Mann of CCS Insight consultancy says that Three’s announcement shakes things up in the 5G market: "the UK is rapidly becoming the most competitive market for 5G and Three's announcement raises the ante once again."
He also explained that Three’s position would drive all providers in the direction of offering unlimited 5G connections: "it is surely only a matter of time before all four UK operators offer unlimited 5G data."
However, Mann believes that the jockeying for position over price may have a negative effect, as it becomes "increasingly challenging for operators to make a significant return on the huge investment required".
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