Three UK continues 5G network preparation

  • Agreement with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to connect Three’s network to BT local telephone exchanges, facilitating fibre optic connections from masts to datacentres
  • As part of Three’s 5G network preparations, this will provide customers with a faster and more reliable network
  • 5G will enable Three to grow capacity on its network more than twenty fold

Three UK has continued its preparations for the rollout of 5G with an enhanced agreement with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to connect Three’s network to hundreds of BT exchanges*. This will enable the mobile network to connect thousands of mast sites to its core network using fibre.

The new infrastructure will not only lay the groundwork for 5G, but will also improve the experience for Three customers using 4G. Fibre will allow the mobile operator to increase its network capacity twenty times, supporting the expected explosion in mobile data usage. Based on current Ofcom projections, Three UK customers are set to use around 90GB per month by 2025**.

The increased download speeds, and faster loading time of 5G, will allow consumers to download an HD film in seconds (thereby removing the need to stream). Fibre will also improve network reliability, as well as enable new applications in the internet of things. Initial deployments of next generation mobile services are expected to begin in H2 2019 when the first 5G capable handsets and home broadband devices are released by manufacturers.

This latest stage of Three UK’s network improvements will allow Three to fully maximise its leading 5G spectrum portfolio and follows an agreement signed with Nokia to build the world’s first fully virtualized 5G-ready core network**.

The multi-million-pound deal with SSE Enterprise Telecoms builds on a framework agreement announced in April. It was previously announced that SSE Enterprise Telecoms will provide a fibre resilience ring connecting all of Three’s data centres as a back-up to the main supplier for these sites.

Bryn Jones, chief technology officer at Three UK, said,

“By significantly increasing our access to fibre, we are putting our network on the best footing possible to take advantage of the benefits of 5G technology. Our customers use 3.5 times more data per month than the average UK consumer and this deal will help us maintain our leadership in providing a fantastic data service. Fibre is essential to the UK’s digital future and more needs to be done to improve its availability to ensure that the UK benefits from 5G at the earliest opportunity.”

Colin Sempill, Managing Director at SSE Enterprise Telecoms, said,

“5G will allow Three UK to grow capacity on its network more than twenty-fold. But for 5G to live up to its potential, the right infrastructure must be in place. High capacity fibre connectivity is absolutely critical. We’re fully invested in supporting the UK’s digital ambitions, demonstrated in our recent investments in expanding our network, and it’s exciting for us to be playing such an important role in Three UK’s journey towards a 5G future for consumers and businesses.”

*Agreement will connect the Three network to an initial 170 BT exchanges and up to 270 more longer-term, which will support fibre deployments to circa 6,000 masts in the urban areas of the UK

**Ofcom Mobile Data Strategy, June 2016

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