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Three UK fires 5G warning shot with impressive rollout plans

Three UK will launch 5G in August alongside a home broadband service in London after successful trials in the capital.

The operator plans to launch both mobile and home broadband offerings in 25 towns and cities across the UK before the end of the year and claims that it will be able to deliver speeds twice as fast as its competitors.

Network improvements are being carried out across the busiest areas of the UK, including London, Cardiff, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, as part of Three’s £2bn 5G infrastructure investment commitment which includes a new 5G-ready world first cloud core network provided by Nokia.

Thanks to the acquisition of UK Broadband two years ago, Three has more than twice as much 5G spectrum as its closest competitor, which, it claims will deliver significantly faster speeds for its customers.

According to the ITU, the global standards body on 5G technology, Three is the only operator who can offer a ‘true’ 5G experience which requires 100MHz of 5G spectrum. This market-leading spectrum portfolio, alongside investment in high capacity smart antennas, will deliver the fastest 5G network in the UK. At launch, peak mobile speeds will be at least two times faster than other mobile network operators and will provide a more reliable connection and experience for customers.

Over the next three years, Three’s 5G rollout will continue to ramp up to cover 80% of its network traffic. The network investment programme also includes upgrades within Three’s 4G network, expected to deliver up to 400% improvements in speed and capacity. This will be achieved through deploying more 4G spectrum, converting 3G spectrum to 4G and using advanced antenna technology.

Three CEO Dave Dyson said “It’s clear that consumers and businesses want more and more data. We have the UK’s best network for data and we have led the market on customer usage on both 3G and 4G technologies.

“We have worked hard over a long period of time to be able to offer the best end to end 5G experience. 5G is a game changer for Three, and of course I am excited that we will be the only operator in the UK who can offer true 5G.”

Dani Warner, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, commented “Three’s 5G plans will have significant repercussions across both the mobile and broadband industry, particularly with the announcement that 5G home broadband is part of the roll-out.

“Not only is Three’s 5G service set to be available in more cities than either Vodafone or EE, but the network is also confident its speeds will be twice as fast as those of its rivals.

“And Three users who are not yet fully on board with the 5G movement, or are reluctant to fork out for an upgraded 5G-ready handset, will also benefit from significant improvements to the network’s existing 4G service.

“However, it is the home broadband offering that really catches the eye. Until now, much of the discussion of 5G’s arrival has centred on how it will improve mobile connectivity and speeds, but its potential to upend the broadband market, and so quickly, is now being explored by Three.

“Those in areas or buildings without full fibre installed may now be able to choose the convenient option of plugging a 5G router straight into the wall and being online on ultrafast speeds in seconds.

“By the time full fibre does reach many people – with 2033 still the government’s target for full coverage – they may very well be perfectly happy with 5G mobile broadband connections.

“The traditional broadband heavyweights will be sitting up and paying attention as Three has fired a significant warning shot here. If it is competitively priced, 5G could well win the ‘space race’ with fibre in the next few years.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine