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Three’s 5G transformation will benefit 4G users

Jasper Hart
July 2, 2019

Refarming spectrum will help current users

Three’s network transformation ahead of its 5G launch will also benefit its 4G customers through the re-farming of spectrum.

Speaking to media at a briefing event called “5G: Why best is better than first”, Three 5G programme director Shaun Smith said that a refarming of 2,100 MHz of 3G spectrum to 4G, as well as carrier aggregation would unlock a “huge performance boost” for 4G customers.

“This means we can use the spectrum we do have more effectively,” he said. “For 4G customers in the right conditions we’ll be able to deliver 100Mbps average speed on 4G. So the trickle down effects from our network are absolutely enormous.”

Smith also detailed Three’s deal with SSE Enterprise Telecoms for the latter to provide fibre for its networks. SSE will provide fibre optic connections for Three to 170 BT exchanges initially, with this increasing to 270 in the longer term.

SSE will also support fibre deployments to approximately 6,000 masts in urban areas of the UK, as well as using Thames Water’s sewer network in London to lay cables to 100 sites in Soho and Mayfair.

Three chief marketing officer Shadi Halliwell also showed statements from the other MNOs that stated why Three’s contiguous 100MHz spectrum will be the most effective 5G spectrum in the UK.

Three had nine per cent of the 3G + 4G spectrum, but now has 30 per cent of the 3G + 4G + 5G spectrum, the most in the country, thanks to its purchase of UK Broadband.

In response to Ofcom’s June 2018 consultation on the licence variation of granting Three 100MHz of contiguous spectrum, Vodafone wrote: “The evidence is that Three’s first mover advantage would be prolonged.”

Telefonica wrote: “Hutchison 3 Group would be the only operator able to exploit fully the benefits associated with 5G,” while BT/EE wrote: “The proposed licence variation would convey significant commercial advantage to to Three/UK Broadband… that will arise from having a contiguous 100MHz.”

Halliwell said: “We’re going to take 5G by storm. We believe it’s ours to own.”

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