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Three introduces 4G+ at 2,700 sites

Mobile operator Three hopes to boost average mobile data speeds by up to 33% through carrier aggregation

Subscribers to the Three mobile network will soon see a 4G+ symbol appearing on their smartphones, after the operator switched on carrier aggregation technology at 2,700 sites in Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London.

The operator claimed that by aggregating existing 4G spectrum bands it could boost average mobile internet speeds by between 15% and 33% in areas that regularly see some of the UK’s highest network loads.

Three regularly makes a point of being the most heavily used UK mobile network in terms of data, with its users consuming around three-and-a-half times more than the UK average, according to data sourced from analysts at CCS Insight.

Carrier aggregation works by combining different long-term evolution (LTE) carriers onto the same data channel and spectrum frequency band. This lets operators get more out of their networks by increasing peak data rates and capacity.

The version deployed by Three will respond to real-time mobile internet use and will activate itself during periods of high data demand.

The operator said 50% of devices currently use its network support carrier aggregation, but claimed the enhanced service would benefit the rest of its users as well by freeing up capacity across the entire network.

“Three customers are the highest consumers of data, with this trend expected to continue for several years. As we ready our network for 5G, we’re moving quickly to put the right technology in place to deliver the most reliable mobile experience for our customers,” said Three CEO Dave Dyson.

“This latest innovation plays a critical role in ensuring our customers will be able to make the most of their mobile devices, both now and in the future.”

In common with its rivals, Three has already begun ploughing time and money into getting ready for the roll-out of 5G mobile network services in the next 18 months to two years. It has already spent almost £300m on preparations.

Earlier this year it enlisted the help of SSE Enterprise Telecoms to beef up its core fibre network, using Infinera’s XTM product, a dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) platform, to improve network capacity.

It is also collaborating with O2 and SSE to enhance the fibre backhaul network in London by connecting cellular sites and mobile masts using Thames Water’s sewage network.

Read more about mobile networks

  • O2 has extended its rural 4G mobile network roll-out, targeting more than 300 small communities all over the UK.
  • Mobile network operator Vodafone claims the activation of a trial site in Manchester marks the first time mobile data traffic has been streamed to and from the internet exclusively over 5G technology.
  • EE is exploring high-capacity zone testing for its 5G network roll-out, with the first phase expected to target hotspots such as London’s Canary Wharf.

Read more on Mobile networking

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