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

Want 4G and battery life? It's called HSDPA+, and it's 3 G

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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 be turned on "towards the year end". Theoretically it can make a splash before then.

The mobile network has upgraded most of its gear to HSDPA+, which uses two antennas and offers very similar speed to 4G but without the battery drain.

"Right now the latest version of 3G and the early versions of LTE are not dramatically different," said Dyson.

The chief exec revealed the timetable to coincide with the publication of the operator's latest financial results. The total revenue raised by the UK tentacle of Hutchison Whampoa's mobile group increased to £1.95bn last year, up from £1.787bn in 2011.

Three UK now has nine-million customers of which 5.2 million are on contract. Earnings before interest and taxes, aka operating profit, rose from £30m in 2011 to £101m in 2012.

The network also claimed 900,000 net additions in users last year, while contract churn fell from a monthly average of 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.

Three's operating profit in Europe - including Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Italy and Austria - doubled from 2011 to 2012, and revenue went up 3.2 per cent, year on year, to HK$58.7bn (£4.99bn). Three has 23.5 million punters in Europe. ®

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