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Three UK Extend Full Fibre Deal with Cityfibre to Fuel 5G Mobile

Friday, September 4th, 2020 (9:44 am) - Score 6,354

Mobile operator Three UK has extended their existing “full fibre” network capacity (backhaul) deal with Cityfibre via a new multi-million-pound contract, which will help to connect an additional 1,300 mobile masts across 59 towns and cities. This will support the operator’s new gigabit capable 5G based mobile broadband network.

The move follows Cityfibre’s first contract win with Three UK in February 2020 (here). The first phase of that agreement was due to see Cityfibre provide backhaul connectivity to Three’s 5G cell sites, with hundreds of sites due for connection this year across a number of CF’s Gigabit City projects (the first connections to sites under this phase were due to go live this summer 2020).

Clearly Three UK must be happy with the progress of that because they’ve now expanded their arrangement. All of this should complement CF’s wider £4bn investment plan (here), which currently aims to cover around 1 million premises by the end of 2021 and then 8 million across 100+ cities and towns (c.30% of the UK) – the latter target is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2025.

The expanded partnership will also mean Three has access to small cell access points throughout each of CF’s city-wide networks. This will ensure it has the local multi-gigabit “full fibre” capacity in place to support the expected heavy demand of 5G services in busy urban areas. Most of the locations identified for Three’s 5G rollout are already well progressed and CF is currently ramping up their own build.

Susan Buttsworth, COO at Three UK, said:

“We are increasing investment across our network to meet the ever increasing demand for data by UK consumers. Fibre backhaul is a vital part of a reliable network experience and this investment will mean better connectivity for our customers across the UK.”

Greg Mesch, CEO of CityFibre, said:

“We are excited to deepen our support for Three’s ambitious 5G rollout. It’s clear that the alignment of two national consumer and mobile digital infrastructure rollouts has huge benefits, not just for us, but for the cities and communities we are connecting. Working together we can deploy 5G and Full Fibre further and more efficiently, creating a word class digital infrastructure that allows agile and distributed applications for millions.”

On the one hand Dark Fibre using deals like this might not seem that interesting to residential consumers, but on the other hand such agreements can help to support the investment case for wider deployments of fibre optic broadband technology and that can only ever be a good thing.

The move will also complement Three UK’s existing fibre optic capacity deals with companies like SSE Enterprise Telecoms etc.

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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.
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Good news from Three! Love how they have to spin it though “its for our 5g!” when their existing 4g is in really dire need of this too!.

    I’ll look forward to seeing a cityfibre van digging up the park near my local three mast very soon!

    1. Avatar Leex says:

      The good thing is as three don’t normally upgrade or pay MBNL to upgrade (share mast with ee/t-mobile) to 4g+, when 5g is installed the masts and equipment for 4g is also upgraded as well to 4g+ (so 4g800/1500/1800/2100 could be added to the site)

      it be nice if they would enable DSS while they are at it as well so the newer x52/second gen 5g modems (s765 or non + 5g s8xx phones as the plus phones use a separate 5g only modem that can’t do DSS)
      it can bond the 4g and 5g at the same time to get high speeds (basically same as 4g+) so 4g800 to 2500mhz bands can be bonded with 5g700-3500 bands (so if only 4g800 and 5g700 is in range you get more speed available then you normally would, if they have DSS enabled on the masts )

  2. Avatar Name says:

    In my town they have fibre optic cable provided to a radioline mounted on the wooden pole supplying signal to the mast located in the middle of nowhere with antennas directed to cover older part of the town.

  3. Avatar Nimit Arora says:

    How do you identify which telecom company does a mast tower belongs to (I could see a mast near the station to my house but not sure which company it belongs to)?

    Is there a website which provides information about masts near your home so that one can choose a network provider reliably?

    1. Avatar Tim says:

      Cellmapper.net or read the emergency contact/owner label on the cabinet.

    2. Avatar Michael V says:

      Cellmapper is a good option, but if you’re able to see the cabinet at the bottom of the mast there should be a sticker on it stating the Operator’s name

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