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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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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.
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