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Three launches UK’s third 5G network

Mobile operator Three has switched on its 5G service, but for now it will only be available as a home broadband service

Three has become the third of the big four UK mobile network operators (MNOs) to switch on its 5G service, following in the footsteps of EE and Vodafone, which both inaugurated their services earlier in 2019.

However, unlike its competitors, Three will at first only supply home broadband customers in London using a “plug-and-play” home hub device to access its 5G network, ahead of a more traditional roll-out which will begin imminently.

Three said its 5G home broadband plan, which will cost users £35 per month and comes with no data limits, is set to shake up the market for ultrafast broadband by offering a service comparable to standard full-fibre broadband, but without the costs and delays associated with a full-fibre roll-out.

“Three’s 5G is going to revolutionise the home broadband experience. No more paying for landline rental, no more waiting for engineers, and even a same-day delivery option. It really is the straightforward plug-and-play broadband that customers have been waiting for,” said Three’s CEO, Dave Dyson.

“We’ve taken a simple approach with one single truly unlimited data plan to give customers the opportunity to fully explore 5G and all its exciting possibilities. The ease and immediacy of it all means home broadband using 5G is going to be key to the future of the connected home.”

Trials of the service have been taking place around Camden in North London for several months now, and a number of its beta testers have signed up for the commercial service.

Looking ahead, Three said it planned to roll-out its mobile 5G service across 25 cities in the UK by the end of 2019, and hopes to have 80% of its network traffic running over 5G by 2022. It will be launching this service with three handsets, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.

It has also promised that both new and existing customers will be able to access 5G with no speed caps and at no price premium over 4G on any contract, SIM only or pay-as-you-go plan.

Three has made much out of having access to a greater amount of contiguous 5G-ready radio spectrum than either EE, O2 or Vodafone – thanks in part to its 2017 acquisition of UK Broadband, an operator of 4G fixed wireless access (FWA) services – which means it should be able to offer a higher quality service than its rivals, at least in the short-term.

  • Read more about 5G
  • The first 5G sites in Ireland have gone live in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford on Vodafone’s network.
  • The tech sector needs to coalesce around a unified, positive vision of 5G to establish a proper business case for ultrafast, low latency mobile.
  • The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy is to probe the UK government’s approach to telecoms technology and 5G as a national security issue.

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