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Three UK to Launch 2x Faster 5G Broadband for 25 Cities in August

Monday, Jun 10th, 2019 (7:54 am) - Score 14,581

Mobile operator Three UK has announced that the £2bn commercial rollout of their new ultrafast 5G mobile network will begin in August 2019, reaching 25 towns and cities across the UK by the end of 2019. The provider is also pledging “at least 2x faster” broadband speeds thanks to their initial spectrum advantage.

At present Three UK has only been testing the new 5G service in limited parts of London and naturally this will be the first city to go live in August, with the other 24 locations (named below) set to follow by the end of 2019. Going forward the operator anticipates that 5G services will account for 80% of its network over the next 3 years.

Crucially the operator, which tends to own less 3G and 4G spectrum than their rivals, has long recognised that they may be better positioned to compete in future 5G services and this is why they gobbled fixed wireless ISP UK Broadband Ltd. for £250m back in 2017 (here). On top of that they recently spent £164m to grab a meagre 20MHz slice of the 3.4GHz band in Ofcom’s auction (here).

The combined impact of the above means that Three UK now has a total of about 144MHz (frequency) across several 5G friendly mobile bands and one of those includes a 100MHz block of contiguous spectrum in the 3.4-3.6GHz band (here), which is ideal for the new service (at present Vodafone only has 50MHz of 5G spectrum, while EE and O2 both hold 40Mhz).

As a result of the above Three UK are promising that their 5G service will be “at least 2x faster” than their rivals, although much of this depends upon whether they can keep up with the capacity requirements in order to fuel that. Rival operator EE, which has just gone live with their own 5G network (here), told consumers to expect speeds of around 100-150Mbpseven in the busiest areas” (i.e. we will expect 200-300Mbps from Three).

NOTE: Last year Three published a study that detailed the impact of 5G wireless broadband services on rival fixed line networks (here).

Admittedly 5G technology itself is designed to cope with peak download speeds of 20Gbps but, just like with 4G and 3G before that, it often takes several years before networks are ready to handle such speeds. Ofcom will also be releasing a lot more spectrum in 2020 (i.e. the 700MHz and 3.6 – 3.8GHz bands), which is needed to support faster services and better coverage.

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

“It’s clear that consumers and businesses want more and more data. We have the UK’s best network for data and we have led the market on customer usage on both 3G and 4G technologies. We have worked hard over a long period of time to be able to offer the best end to end 5G experience. 5G is a game changer for Three, and of course I am excited that we will be the only operator in the UK who can offer true 5G.”

Three’s mobile customers are also known to be particularly data-hungry and consume 3.5x more data per month than the industry average, which is no small part due to their focus on “unlimited” style data and mobile broadband plans. Indeed the company also offers a 4G Home Broadband package with unlimited data from just £22 per month (HomeFi) and they have a dedicated wireless ISP brand called Three Broadband (formerly Relish).

The focus on unlimited data and better speeds suggests that Three’s new 5G upgrade should be particularly attractive to consumers, possibly even enough to the point of stealing away some market share from fixed line broadband networks. Indeed Ovum once predicted that consumers will gobble 13 times more mobile data in 2025 than today, largely due to the advent of 5G.

Unfortunately we don’t yet know how much Three UK intends to charge for their new 5G powered Mobile and Home Broadband products. The details on all that are due to be announced in July 2019 next month, although as an operator Three tends to be aggressively competitive on price. Meanwhile Vodafone intends for their own 4G and 5G plans to cost the same, while EE charges a premium.

Three UK’s 25 5G Launch Cities for 2019
Milton Keynes

It’s worth noting that the operator’s current network investment programme also includes upgrades to their existing 4G network, which are “expected to deliver up to 400% improvements in speed and capacity.” This will be achieved through “deploying more 4G spectrum, converting 3G spectrum to 4G and using advanced antenna technology.”

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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29 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Mibu says:

    Let’s hope it’s £40-£50 unlimited free 5g

  2. Avatar photo David Blythen says:

    I shan’t be subscribing to 5G, until its shown to be safe.

    1. Avatar photo Blueacid says:

      ..it’s non-ionising radiation, just like 2G, 3G, 4G, baby monitors, bluetooth, Wi-Fi, FM Radio, AM Radio, DAB Radio, Satellite TV, Terrestrial TV, walkie talkies, CB Radio, police radios…

      It is, and always will be, fine.

      And if anyone goes “omg it’s dangerous”, it’s at a low power level. Much like a friend might jokingly punch you on the arm, or Mike Tyson might send you flying with an uppercut. Both are punches, but both are a different power level. Same for the frequencies involved in 5G – maybe at an insanely high power they might cause harm, but the power levels involved are miniscule, to the point of not mattering.

    2. Avatar photo Stephen Wakeman says:

      If it wasn’t safe, then whether or not you subscribe to it would not bear much impact on your exposure to it. Radio waves propagate invisibly and through solid matter. So if you’re in a 5g coverage area, radio waves will propagate through you, irrespective of whether you’re using a 5g device or not.

      I suspect you’re one of those people who dumps on comment sections about 5g to scaremonger. There is no evidence that 5g poses any threat to public health. Just like 4g, 3g and 2g before it. What proof do you actually seek to discredit the unproven scare tactics?

    3. Avatar photo kaptainkandikat says:

      oh god, here we go.

    4. Avatar photo Kits says:

      I agree it needs to be stopped before it kills, microwave radiation kills and these are to high higher than the EU safe levels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kno0rJa_nUc&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR0v-_vvLrRvvk-D4pARvSMKgaXv5bQsutoObg72iueQI-Y7HFWMJ2RA8rQ

    5. Avatar photo CarlT says:



      Mr Blythen: hope you don’t ever get on a plane and fly anywhere. You get a dose of ionising radiation doing that.

    6. Avatar photo mike says:

      A sufficiently advanced person or organisation can actually use radio waves passing through your home to build a very low-quality image of what’s inside. Enough to know what rooms people are in, but the kind of detail we’re talking is an outline of their body. They can’t use it to take detailed images of you.

  3. Avatar photo Toby Adams says:

    It is really interesting to see the 5G networks being advertised as Home Broadband products out of the gate. I remember when Relish was a real novelty and now the concept is about to go mainstream. Exciting times ahead.

    1. Avatar photo Guy Cashmore says:

      Indeed it is, for those of us living in areas forgotten by BDUK and other schemes, stuck with miserable long line ADSL, this is fantastic news. Yes we may need an outdoor antenna, we might even need a tall mast ourselves, but at least we can finally do something about it ourselves. The hideous rural BT monopoly is finally being broken and good riddance to them 🙂

  4. Avatar photo Darren says:

    Will 3 be changing their name to 5 or Hi5 then! They were originally called 3 because they were the first 3G network in the UK (Three were started by Hutchison Telecom – the same company who also started the Orange network – later sold to Vodafone and then EE, and Rabbit (anyone remember Rabbit phones and masts?? – they’ve always had gimmicky names – I wonder if Rabbit came from their name starting with what you store a rabbit in – in a hutch))

    1. Avatar photo JC says:

      Not quite, Vodafone has never owned Orange and EE was born from the joint venture of Orange and T-Mobile when they merged.

    2. Avatar photo CJ says:

      Vodafone owned Orange in 2000 via its acquisition of Mannesmann, which was already in the process of taking over Orange.

      Vodafone had to commit to sell Orange to get its takeover of Mannesmann approved by the competition authorities. Shortly after, it sold it to France Telecom.

    3. Avatar photo mike says:

      Well they’re still not called 4, so I doubt it.

  5. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Not one network is launching 5G in a single town or city in the whole of the East of England region.

    1. Avatar photo CJ says:

      Not surprising when so far, only one network has done a serious rollout of 4G in the East of England.

    2. Avatar photo mike says:

      I’ve had plenty of 4G from both EE and Three in East Anglia.

  6. Avatar photo Rob says:

    Reliable coverage on train journeys please.

  7. Avatar photo Private says:

    When someone mentions radio waves are no different than microwave radiation FFS!! (facepalm).

  8. Avatar photo Kunta Kinte (british slave) says:

    3 must first complete a 4g and 3g network and then run 5g. no one needs 1G/s internet on the phone. 4g is enough but in every place in the country.

    1. Avatar photo Norbert S. Klanu says:

      First they have plug fibre to each station, not keep them on 155Mbit/s uplinks.

  9. Avatar photo Sharon White says:

    Hey Three, Please switch fully on 4G 2100MHz! Time to ditch 3G now or face heavy fine!


  10. Avatar photo Michael V says:

    I’m really excited to upgrade to 5G-NR from them. Bring it on.

  11. Avatar photo Marjorie Blaikie says:

    Is this a joke? I am with 3 and don’t even get 3G where I live and contract price has just increased.

  12. Avatar photo Sunjay Bhogal says:

    I will never go back to three after experiencing very poor speed on homefi was only getting 1 to 2 meg download speed, they could not admit to me it was congestion issue, they just lied to me, that why I will never go back to them. They mention the new 5g will improve things but I won’t hold my breath to that.

  13. Avatar photo James Harkin says:

    5G with a mast every 100 metres across the country concerns when the highest radiation is at the pole itself. Have you read the warning labels on these things? Additionally, the destruction of well-established trees in cities to make way for this 5G street furniture is also concerning regarding air quality and temperature increases. Anyone affected by tinnitus? Constant ringing in the ears? Some are suggesting that blanket EMFs is causing the majority of it. Head out to deep in the countryside to do a test to see if it goes away.

    1. Avatar photo Igy says:

      as far as I know, nobody has plans to build masts every 100m. 5G is just as harmful as 4G, but I agree that nobody needs a 5g network, except for a few people for speed tests

  14. Avatar photo Adam says:

    It’s a little annoying, given the acquisition of Relish, that Swindon isn’t included in this phase of the rollout!

  15. Avatar photo Time traveller says:

    4g speed is enough just have coverage all over the UK. Not to lose signal and go into buffering mode every 200 metres..

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