Network Three has promised to upgrade its customers from 3G to ultra-fast 4G networking for no extra cost.

Three, along with other major networks, is currently bidding in the Ofcom spectrum for 4G airwaves. And along with its private bid has publically announced some plans for its next generation of network.

Dave Dyson, Three CEO said: “As we add the next wave of technology to our Ultrafast network, we’ve listened to our customers and thought long and hard about the right way to do it. We don’t want to limit Ultrafast services to a select few based on a premium price and we’ve decided our customers will get this service as standard.”

Dave Dyson, Three CEO

Dave Dyson, Three CEO

The news will come as a relief to owners of recent 4G handsets such as the iPhone 5 or iPad 4. Currently the only network to offer 4G internet services in the UK is EE, which has been charging a high premium for its exclusivity. EE charges £21 per month for a paltry 500MB of data, or £36 per month for just 5GB of data.

That compares pretty poorly to Three, which offers unlimited data for just £15 per month on its ultimate Internet plan.

There is a marked increase in data speed between 3G and 4G, although it isn't as great as some people might believe. The iPhone 5 also supports DC-HDSDPA, which effectively combines two 3G signals together for double speed.

DC-HSDPA can support up to a theoretical 42 Mbit/s whereas 4G LTE can support a theoretical 100Mbp/s. End consumers are unlikekly to see the fruit's of this labour, however. Our DC-HSDPA test returned a healthy 10.61Mbp/s, whereas an EE connection typically returns around 15MBp/s.

See also: iPhone 5 Speed Tests

Both of these speeds are pretty much as good as you need from an iPhone, even if you're using data heavy services such as Documents in the Cloud or iTunes Match.

Many iPhone 5 owners have sat out the EE upgrade, but will happily move over to 4G when the price becomes more in line with what they're currently paying. Three's announcement strikes us a welcome, and sensible, one.

See also

In early tests, iPhone 5 customers praise fast LTE wireless speeds

Three Network