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Three UK Expands 4G Mobile Broadband Coverage to 48 Percent

Monday, December 8th, 2014 (7:54 am) - Score 1,591

Data focused mobile operator Three UK has announced that their new 4G (LTE at 1800MHz) based Mobile Broadband network is, after its first year of physical deployment work, now available to 48% of the United Kingdom and their next enhancement could help to significantly improve that figure.

Officially Three UK’s press release states that their commercial deployment of 4G connectivity didn’t get underway until towards the end of Q1 2014, although technically it began with a whimper in December 2013 (here). So far most of this work has been conducted by using a slice of the 1800MHz band, which they secured from EE last year.

As it stands some 3.1 million of Three UK’s 8 million mobile subscribers are now using Three’s 4G service, which is an interesting figure because the operator’s 4G is available “at no extra cost” to existing subscribers (most rivals charge extra). In other words, with 48% coverage we’d expect that figure of 3.1m to be a bit higher, although crucially not everybody has a 4G capable phone.

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three, said:

The rollout of new capacity is progressing well and, most importantly for me, customer satisfaction is higher than ever. With an advanced 3G network already in place all our customers are able to benefit from a reliable and high performing network.”

Overall around 50 UK cities and 200 towns have already been upgraded with Three’s 4G service and it’s hoped that 98% of the population will be able to access it by the end of 2015. The operator’s next big move will be to expand this coverage by harnessing the low frequency 800MHz band, which they won as part of last year’s Ofcom auction.

The 800MHz band isn’t able to carry as much data as the 1800MHz spectrum, but it does travel further and also penetrates more effectively through walls for good indoor and outdoor coverage. Consumers should be able to benefit from this band in 2015.

Meanwhile a recent report from Ofcom showed that Three UK was delivering average 4G download speeds of 10.7Mbps (11.1Mbps upload), which is a little slower than their rivals (here) and that might be partly because of their “all you can eat” data tariffs putting pressure on network capacity (excludes Tethering, which is sadly capped).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

    Instead of trying reach a high coverage percentage quickly they should concentrate on filling in the coverage they have now it really is extremely patchy some areas having one mast turned on and calling it a day for months. Even Manchester City Centre I find you often drop down to 3G when it shows brilliant 4G signal.

  2. Avatar Tim says:

    Three’s 4G coverage is rubbish! I don’t for one minute believe that 48% figure. They often only enable one mast in a city and class that as covered when in fact it is hard to pick up a 4G signal, having a lower signal level then 3G.

    I recently moved away from Three as I couldn’t put up with their poor coverage any more. Three urgently need to do something to avoid loosing more and more customers each month. Even O2 and Vodafone have better 4G coverage then Three.

  3. Avatar Stephen says:

    Aberdeen is similar, 2 masts were switched on in April but there has been nothing since. Although they are still on target to switch on more in 2014 apparently. It’s fast if you can get it but both masts cover a very small area. I have seem planning apps for 800MHZ upgrades so that should help.
    I really hope that Three don’t fall too far behind the rest, they have provided a great 3G service and they were the 2nd ISP to provide 4G (well some coverage) up here but now they have been well & truly overtaken by the 02/Vodafone 800MHZ rollout, now the other 3 company’s pretty much blanket cover the city while Three have 2 very small areas.
    I do find it a little odd that considering the 800MHZ was the only frequency that they bid for, they haven;t launched more of it by now. I know the 1800 doesn’t need planning permission so it is quicker to roll out but since winning the spectrum they have had a lot of time to apply for upgrades and complete the installations.

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