Mobile operator Three UK has confirmed that they’ve begun trials of a new 5G based “home broadband” service in Camden and Wandsworth (London). On top of that they’re also upgrading their 4G kit in Croydon (i.e. upgrading sites to new antennas and reallocating 10MHz of 3G spectrum (leaving 5MHz for 3G) to 4G for better performance).
All of the above is in keeping with the operator’s recently announced plans to launch their future 5G mobile network in 25 towns and cities across the UK by the end of 2019, which is due to begin this August (here). Sadly today’s brief update doesn’t offer any useful details about their planned 5G home broadband product.
At present Three UK has a total of about 140MHz (frequency) across several 5G friendly mobile bands and one of those includes a 100MHz block of contiguous spectrum in the 3.4-3.8GHz band (here), which is ideal for the new service. The operator believes that this will enable them to deliver 2x faster speeds than their rivals at launch, which if true would mean around 200-300Mbps (based on the fact that EE expects 100-150Mbps in the busiest areas).
Naturally there’s a lot of interest in Three UK’s home broadband products, not least since they already offer a 4G Home Broadband package with unlimited data from just £22 per month (HomeFi). On top of that they also run a dedicated wireless ISP brand called Three Broadband (formerly Relish), which predominantly covers central London via some of the same 3-4GHz spectrum bands on 4G.
Three UK’s June 2019 Network Update
5G home broadband trial underway in Camden
Our trial of 5G home broadband is underway in Camden and Wandsworth with sites up and running, delivering live 5G connectivity to participants. The trial is helping us to ensure that when we launch 5G home broadband in August, we are delivering the best possible experience to our customers.
4G equipment upgrade begins in Croydon
But we know the future is not just about 5G, as 4G is going to remain an important technology to our customers for years to come. That’s why we are undertaking a massive programme to reutilise our 3G spectrum for 4G and upgrade the 4G antenna masts on thousands of our sites. We started in Croydon last month by upgrading the sites to new antennas and reallocating 10MHz of 3G spectrum (leaving 5Mhz for 3G) to 4G, significantly improving performance and capacity on our 4G network. This upgrade programme will rolled out to thousands more sites across the UK over the next couple of years.
Full staff trial of Nokia cloud core network
As we build towards the full commercial launch of our new core network provided by Nokia, all Three staff (3.500+) have been involved in testing it out so that we can optimise it for our customers. The new core network is fully 5G-ready and will allow us to manage the massive increase in data usage expected over the next few years.
Transfer of billing records to our new IT systems
99% of customer call detail records and billing data is now flowing through our new IT stack. That equates to billions of calls going over the new network in the three months since we began testing with a staff trial. We are now working towards full implementation but will continue to put the records through our old systems in parallel until the time is right to move only to our new stack.
But it’s not all about the new…….
We reached a new peak for the amount of mobile data traffic carrying over our network during the all-English Champions League final on June 1st. At the busiest time, a whopping 501Gbps was travelling over our network, up 25% from last year’s final and up around 20% on our network’s average daily traffic.