Three continues UK 5G roll-out

UK operator now offers 5G in 154 towns and cities serviced from over 800 sites across the UK and announces partnership with Ericsson that includes roll-out of 5G and improvements to 4G network

Three UK has continued the roll-out of its 5G network with the launch of its first Ericsson 5G sites, which are now live for customers in Manchester, Glasgow and Reading.

Three debuted its UK 5G network in August 2019 in central London and has since begun rolling out 5G across the rest of the country. The network technology uses 100MHz of contiguous 3.4-3.8GHz 5G spectrum in combination with what it claims is the world’s first fully virtualised cloud core network with Nokia.

At launch, Three claimed the network had more contiguous 5G-ready radio spectrum than EE, O2 or Vodafone, thanks in part to its 2017 acquisition of UK Broadband.

The operator has spent 2020 extending its estate, not just for its traditionally strong consumer base, but also in its growing enterprise division. In February 2020, Three announced it had continued its 5G roll-out and would be making the service available in locations across the UK, including London, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry and Nottingham from the end of that month.

To support the national roll-out, UK fibre broadband company CityFibre was made a preferred provider of backhaul connectivity outside London. The long-term framework deal enables Three to uses CityFibre’s growing national full fibre network to support its roll-out of 5G services.

The announcement of the new 5G sites marks the beginning of the next stage of Three’s 5G roll-out, which will see the connectivity extended to more areas across the country. The deployments mean that Three UK 5G is now available to customers in 154 towns and cities, being serviced by more than 800 sites across the UK.

Three claims that customers using its service will benefit from the UK’s fastest 5G network, with median download speeds in excess of 200Mbps in the third quarter, according to data from mobile testing service Ookla.

Three also believes that its partnership with Ericsson will help boost network efficiency and enable a cost-effective and rapid extension of 5G across the UK. Three became one of more than 100 service providers worldwide to establish a 5G commercial agreement with Ericsson in July.

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The partnership with Ericsson to roll out the 5G network is part of a £2bn investment in the transformation of Three UK’s network and IT infrastructure, and includes huge improvements to its 4G network.

As part of this investment, Three UK has also launched 20 new datacentres, made significant improvements to its fibre backhaul capabilities and completed the roll-out of VoLTE across its entire 4G network.

“We are pleased to have our first Ericsson sites live on our network,” said Susan Buttsworth, chief operating officer at Three UK. “Ericsson is a key partner in the transformation of our network.

“Our customers use 3.5 times more data than the industry average, so the investments we are making are vital to enhancing current performance of our 4G network, future-proofing it and delivering on our promise of providing better connectivity every day for every customer.”

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