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Three UK Prep 5G Trial as Mobile Data Use Rises to 7.6GB in H1 2018

Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 (11:20 am) - Score 9,956

Mobile operator Three UK has published their H1 2018 results, which among other things revealed that monthly Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) data usage per customer grew by 10% during the first six months of the year to total 7.6GB (GigaBytes) and that’s compared with a rise of +7% for the whole of 2017.

By comparison the telecom regulator’s annual Connected Nations 2017 report found that the overall (all major networks) average volume of data consumed per subscriber was 1.9GB per month, which is up from 1.3GB in 2016 and 0.9GB in 2015. In other words, Three UK’s users have a higher level of data consumption than most operators, which is no doubt partly down to their low pricing and “all-you-can-eat” data options.

Overall the operator finished H1 2018 with a total of 10,133,000 active customers (6.83m contract and 3.3m prepaid) and they plan to launch their first trials of future ultrafast 5G mobile technology alongside Huawei within the next 6 months (they now have about 144MHz worth of 5G supporting spectrum frequency, thanks in no small part to Ofcom’s recent auction and their prior purchase of UK Broadband Ltd.).

As part of that they also recently signed an agreement with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to unbundle more BT local telephone exchanges, which they hope will facilitate fibre optic connections of masts to datacentres (here).

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

“I am pleased to report further progress in H1 2018, even as we re-build the business for the future. Our financial performance was solid and builds on the strong foundations we reported at FY 17. I am proud of the continued improvements in customer experience and our lowest ever contract handset churn rate reflects a business that has a genuine focus on its customers.

Over the course of 2018, we will accelerate the rollout of our 5G network and the opportunity this brings to both our existing and prospective base of customers and partners. All the key components that are needed for a successful 5G service have been procured over the last few years and I am excited by the prospect of trialling 5G soon, working together with our new IT and Core network infrastructure.

We continue to collaborate with a variety of like-minded brands which will enable us to deliver a first-class experience to our customers. We are particularly pleased to have added Snapchat to our Go Binge offer, as well as launching Superdrug Mobile and our partnership with EasyJet.”

The operator delivered total H1 revenue of £1,186m (£1,161m in H1 2017) and over the same period EBITDA reached £364m (£341m in H1 2017). Meanwhile some 84% of their customer base is using 4G and 75% of data usage on their network also goes over 4G.

Aside from the £151.3m that Three UK spent on the recent 5G spectrum auction, the operator also said that they’d spent £125m during the first six months of 2018 on new network and system upgrades in order to prepare for 5G.

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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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23 Responses
  1. Simon says:

    Cool! 5G at 3mbps like their 4G has been for the past 2 years :/

    1. Mike says:

      Unlike other networks it seems they never upgraded from Cat4 LTE, hedging their bets on 5G instead.

    2. Dave says:

      Just did a speedtest to see what you mean.
      Got 27.6Mbps down and 33.9Mbps up … which seems reasonable.
      Decided to average 3 tests to different servers.
      Got 25.2 down and 28.4 up.

      Maybe there is a problem with capacity in your area, or something with the handset?

    3. CJ says:

      I don’t know what you are talking about mate I am getting 30 down and 13 up and that’s with one bar of signal you might want to get your phone checked out.

    4. Simon says:

      Oh yes it’s my phone – a brand new s9+ which is capable of 1Gbps and beyond. Nothing to do with the network which is oversold in the south west.

      If you are going to answer so stupidly save your fingers.

    5. Simon says:

      FYI the same phone does over 300mbps on EE – so yes it’s my phone


  2. Michael V says:

    I’ve been with Three for many years & have seen so much improvement. Their 4G network is really fast & we get decent speeds from 3G also. My average data use is 70-120GB a month, while most of the time there’s no buffering when streaming at 1440p, 5G-NR will be a massive benefit & also for capacity, I think that’s one thing probably at the top of their list.

  3. Vaughan says:

    The felling of trees to make way for 5G is fine as long as we can get faster internet.

    We’ll regret this one day.

  4. Rick says:

    Its a joke of a network i cant even pick up a 4g signal when in doors stuck on a dismal 0.93mps can only get a 4g signal when outside when i use ee network i get 2 bars on 4g with 36mbps i hope ee get 5gb first as they will do a good job unlike hutchinsons

    1. Simon says:

      Yes that’s what I am waiting for – 200GB is plenty to mess with 5G and that’s my monthly allowance

  5. Rob says:

    No problem here with Three, great network, getting 80Mbps down on average, binned my useless ADSL and now use Three for my home broadband.


    1. Simon says:

      Hence why it’s a strain on the network for others

    2. Rob says:

      So Three give me a priority high speed link and knock everyone else down, how does that work?
      It is a Home broadband product called HomeFi so I’m sure they have it managed.

      In the Republic of Ireland the HomeFi product is unlimited data for €30/mnth, unfortunatly just 100GB in the UK.

      Speeds even faster today, nice 🙂


    3. asrab uddin says:

      Recent Speed test I carried out on the Three 4G network,
      better than my home connection a lot of the time,


  6. Jon says:

    Three is so good in the middle of rural Devon I’m now using a 4G router at home instead of ADSL and I can’t remember the last time I saw “no service” on my phone

  7. Carl T says:

    Unbundled exchanges or put switches in them to take leased lines?

    A number of companies colocate equipment in BT exchanges but unbundling is specifically taking copper loops from the telco. It would also be rental of dark fibre.

  8. Ray James says:

    My usage on three is 250gb each month all u can eat data for £18

    1. Craig says:

      What are you using all that data for?

    2. Mike says:

      On the internet?

    3. Michael V says:

      Hey! And I thought my usage was high at around 135GB a month. YouTube/Netflix/also including 30GB tethering.

  9. Andrew Ashmore says:

    Is that any of your business?

    If three make the distinction between a 100gb tarriff and ayce then I would imagine 250GB seems perfectly reasonable.

  10. Duncan says:

    Three are great for me, I travel extensively in the UK, work gave me a Vodafone at last job, then got upset that I was using my private phone, that’s because it worked most places lol

  11. Canice McGrath says:

    You said 7.5GB were used per year per person. Well I can totally disagree. I use 7.5GB in 3 days never mind a year.

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