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Three UK Network & IT Update


Three UK is transforming its network and IT infrastructure to deliver a market-leading customer experience and become the best loved brand in the UK by its people and customers.

In August 2019, Three UK launched its 5G network in Central London and has commenced rolling out 5G across the rest of the UK.

Our network technology uses the UK’s leading 5G spectrum portfolio with 100MHz of contiguous 3.4-3.8GHz spectrum which is required to meet the ITU’s standard for 5G in combination with the world’s first fully virtualised cloud core network with Nokia.

We have also committed that all new and existing customers with a 5G-enabled phone will have access to our 5G network with no speed caps, no data limits and at no extra cost on contract, SIM only and PAYG plans.

See below for more detail on this month’s network and IT enhancements.

Update on 5G rollout

Since the launch of our 5G network in August, customers are enjoying on average speeds of 232 Mbps, with peak speeds of 1.1 Gbps, up from 30 Mbps they would have seen with their 4G devices.  The number of our 5G masts in London has doubled, covering hundreds of thousands of homes, and since the launch we have had 500,000 people across the UK do a coverage check for 5G Home Broadband.

Our plan has been to expand our 5G footprint to 25 towns and cities by the end of 2019. We are committed to giving as many customers as possible access to the enhanced experience of 5G, and we now have a number of towns and cities prepped to switch to 5G and our teams will continue to build this out across the country.

There are a number of parts we need to put in place to deliver our 5G experience: 5G equipment on masts, the right backhaul transmission, as well as the need to acquire the right planning permissions from landlords. Added to this we also need to move all of our customer traffic onto the world’s first 5G cloud core network.  Some of these components are more time consuming and complex than others, and, as a result, our 5G roll out is slightly behind our original plan.

Our absolute priority has always been to deliver the best 5G experience for our customers, and we’re confident our customers will enjoy a fast, seamless and uninterrupted experience as we roll out and align our 5G components. All new and existing Three customers with a 5G-enabled phone will have access to 5G with no speed caps, no data limits and at no extra cost on contract, SIM only and PAYG plans. We are stocking the Huawei Mate 20 X (5G), Samsung Note 10 Plus 5G, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung A90 and the Xiaomi MiMix 5G.

4G enhancements

Three UK customers have already started to see the benefits of a £700 million upgrade to its 4G network which will deliver download speed improvements of up to 150% for customers.

More than 1,400 of our 4G sites have now been upgraded, on target for our goal of 1,860 by the end of the year.

Customers in cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and London are seeing speed improvements of 30-40%.

5G cloud core network

Our new cloud core network being delivered in partnership with Nokia is a world first. We have been transitioning carefully over the past few months by moving customers onto the new network and away from our legacy network.

Last month alone we increased the amount of traffic going over the cloud core network, with 9m customers, almost the entire subscriber base, connecting to data services, and 5.8m customers connecting to voice services. We will continue to increase this gradually over the next few months.

As a reminder, our new core network will bring a range of benefits to our customers including:

  • Faster time to market – Our customers will be able to enjoy new products even faster thanks to the agility of the new network.  This could be products which are specific to a place (such as London or Manchester or Liverpool) or products specific to how customers use their phone (such as TikTok or Instagram or YouTube).
  • Capacity – the new cloud core gives us massive capacity (more than 4x the current core) faster, at lower cost and with more resilience for our customers.  
  • Cost efficiency – it can support the growth in mobile data in a cost-efficient manner and provides us with a solid platform from which to deliver a valuable service for our data-hungry customers – now consuming over 10GB of data per month.
  • Security – All of the latest security standards are built-in, meaning best-in-class security for Three UK’s network and customers.

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