Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Three UK boosts 4G and 5G network capability

Leading UK operator further progresses its £2bn network investment programme, claiming to have significantly transformed next-generation and existing network capability, as well as boosting indoor connectivity

UK mobile network operator Three promised at the start of the year to deliver better connectivity through a five-year, £2bn investment programme to transform its network and IT infrastructure, boosting 5G in particular. As part of this programme, it has just announced its latest IT and network update, further investing in 5G and adding 1,400MHz of spectrum to more than 1,900 4G sites.

The operator said it was attempting to increase 4G speeds by up to 150% with the new development, as well as delivering the UK’s fastest 5G network. Three UK has ramped up its next-generation network roll-out over the course of this year so far, investing “heavily” in 5G in towns and cities across the UK. It currently has 1,300 5G sites, which it says delivers superfast speeds, capacity and low latency to mobile and home broadband customers alike.

In the recent 5G spectrum auction from UK comms regulator Ofcom, Three UK parent Hutchison 3G picked up two 10MHz blocks of low-frequency paired spectrum in the 700MHz band at a cost of £280m, tripling the amount of low-frequency spectrum Three owns. The operator said the new block would have a transformative effect on its customers’ experience indoors and in rural areas. 

In addition to enhancing its next-generation network, Three UK will also add 1,400MHz of spectrum to more than 1,900 4G sites. This, the company said, will increase download speeds by up to three times, doubling the capacity of the Three UK 4G network. Three said 1,400MHz spectrum significantly improves customers’ network experience as it provides better outdoor and indoor connectivity.

“The investment we’re making in our network and IT infrastructure is vital to delivering on our promise of providing better connectivity, every day, for every customer”
David Hennessy, Three

Complementing the core network enhancements, the operator said connecting its mast sites to high-speed, high-capacity fibre was a vital part of delivering high-quality service to its customers. Some 3,500 sites have now been upgraded to 10Gbps-capable transmission, giving customers a faster, better and more reliable experience. In September 2020, Three awarded national digital infrastructure platform provider CityFibre a multimillion-pound contract to connect an additional 1,300 of its key mobile communications masts across 59 towns and cities.

“The investment we’re making in our network and IT infrastructure is vital to delivering on our promise of providing better connectivity, every day, for every customer,” said Three UK chief technology officer David Hennessy, commenting on the upgrades. “Despite unprecedented challenges presented by a global pandemic, our 5G and 4G roll-out is going strong and we’re making sure our customer remains at the centre of every decision we make.”

The company recently appointed Hrvoje Jerkovic as its core network director, who will be responsible for the design and execution of Three’s core network, making sure customers get the best network experience possible.

Jerkovic is described as an experienced telecommunications leader, who has operated across both mobile and fixed technologies. He worked for A1 Telekom Austria and T-Mobile, where he was responsible for the core network and quality assurance domains. He played a key role in several mergers and acquisitions across central Europe.

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