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Three UK Add 20 Data Centres to Boost Mobile Performance

Friday, November 20th, 2020 (1:38 pm) - Score 15,504
Signal tower service concept

Mobile operator Three UK has just finished the build of 20 new data centres, complete with improved backhaul capacity, which should help to deliver faster network latency times and support the ever growing demands of their data (mobile broadband) hungry 4G and 5G based customers’.

The new data centres, which form part of the operator’s on-going £2bn infrastructure upgrade programme, should also increase reliability as traffic can be automatically redirected from a data centre having an issue to another in real-time. The new sides have also adopted new energy saving technologies (better cooling etc.), which are needed to help cut the company’s carbon footprint.

The sites, provided by Equinix and Ark, have been spread across the UK.

Susan Buttsworth, Three’s Chief Operating Officer, said:

“Our new data centres allow us to spread the network load across the country, and bring our customers closer to their data, meaning less lag. This investment will help us provide a better network experience for our customers, giving them better connectivity, every day.”

All of this should support their efforts to “deliver the UK’ss fastest 5G network” and upgrade existing 4G connectivity.

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62 Responses
  1. Roy says:

    What a load of rubbish. Still 18/28 with smarty (3) and ping still high 51ms. Nothing is sorted out

    1. Archie says:

      51ms is not a high ping.

      In what world is a 20th of a second high?

      Look any loads of the pros who are able to play games such as CS:GO and PUBG online who have pings of around 80ms.

      Anything under 100ms is low.

    2. Terry moore says:

      I agree it’s rubbish for a city centre they promised 5g still waiting

  2. Michael V says:

    More improvements are always good to see.
    I’ve seen speeds improve around the county I live & Cardiff. Less congestion in certain places of the city also.

  3. Jack says:

    Isn’t the real issue that the masts themselves don’t have enough backhaul which then results in the slowdown?

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      I’m certainly of the opinion that the mast-to-core bandwidth may be a factor too!

  4. LG says:

    Cardiff – just checked and no improvement. 950 kbps, latency 53ms.

  5. Richie Reginald says:

    Only Three can do this because they are true full stack communications provider.

    It is wonderful news to see them investing in our consumer experience. Customer support is much improved too, and I think it’s now the best in the UK of all the communications providers.

    Three will continue to make the investments necessary to ensure the UK at least one world-class mobile communication provider.

    I believe in the power of Three.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      what you been drinking Richie? I’d love some!

    2. TheTruth says:

      @Richie Reginald

      I believe in honesty but your post is the greatest load of rubbish I’ve heard this year.

    3. One of your victims says:

      So funny. Pleased continue with such a joke

    4. What are you on says:

      Is this a Party Political Broadcast from the Three company…………….

    5. Ahmed says:

      That’s great

  6. Buggerlugz says:

    I’ll expand on my previous post….I know my 4G+ connection is capable of in excess of 100Mbps, but sadly since my cooling off period ended, so did those speeds. My router is still in the same place and I still get 18-20dbm.

    Since January 2020 the service has continued month after month to slow, I frequently disconnect, am connected but have no service (even though the router says I should), (and/or require multiple router reboots, its proved totally unreliable as a Home broadband service and latency has increased. I’m now down to 25MBps at best for a few hours a day and <10Mbps most evenings, with 65-80ms latency the norm. On top of this I can't even get web pages to resolve on the 3internet APN and have to use the CGNatted three.co.uk just for my internet to function now. Ringing them is utterly pointless, it takes hours to get through and then they are incapable of resolving anything.

    All this "supposed" investment from Three is welcomed, don't get me wrong, but I'll believe it when I see a tangible improvement. All I've seen over the past year is denial that any problems exist from the company with a marketing push that's obviously increased contention dramatically for everyone.

    Three talks the talk, but I'm yet to see it walk the walk.

    1. Pete says:

      I phoned them regarding 90+ latancy they really didn’t know what it was could not make them understand what it was pointless, I was getting 100 – 120mb on 4g now down to around 80 same mounted antenna the mast was 4g+ but now just 4G

    2. michael freeman says:

      They don’t care about there customers

  7. Handy Andy says:

    Still the worst coverage out of the 4 though

    1. Michael V says:

      Depending where you live. I can’t agree with that. Around South Wales I’ve always got signal. I can drive from Cardiff to Carmarthenshire – west Wales, can stream music with no loss of signal.
      Thats across all their 4G bands.
      Does your phone support their ‘supervoice’ VoLTE network on 800mhz ?

      All four Operators have their black spots.

    2. michael freeman says:

      Very true

  8. Pete says:

    My latancy still 90 /10-13 jitter with wired connection to 1 pc nothing running on homfi huawei cpe Pro, also same 90 latancy on my mobile too nothing changed in Grimsby speed is around 60/80mb

  9. Ex Three Customer as of 4 weeks ago says:

    No they are just rubbish. Phone has all UK bands support and even 5G.

    Signal generally ok in South East for me but the speeds dreadful. Only one town is 40mpbs.

    Went back to Virgin off EE and voila, 50 to 70 virtually anywhere except central London on their 4G.

    No regrets dumping Three…..

  10. Ged Bromley says:

    Congestion, pure and simple. Cheap unlimited data plans have made it a victim of it’s own success.

    1. michael freeman says:

      Very true

    2. s17ark says:

      they come good…

    3. lee says:

      All the providers are offering relatively cheap unlimited data plans across the board.
      They still manage to offer decent speeds with no problems.
      It’s more likely to be a problem with three’s hardware, mast’s, backhaul with no gigabit capacity to mention a couple.
      That can be the only explanation as to why some three users are happy with constants speeds of 40mbps plus down while others struggle in the kbps range.
      Three themselves have identified the need to upgrade their hardware. The problem is they have been saying this for the past three years.

  11. Jonathan M's says:

    I have perfect 4G+ signal and good WiFi signal but since April speeds are terrible 21mbs daytime and 3mbs in the evening. I believe the phone mast is not capable of handling all these data connections. It’s a shame companies no longer state their contention ratios.

    1. Shane R Smith says:

      I have the same problem in loughborough LE11 4UG, but after midnight this goes up to 40 mbs. I think too many people have unlimited data plans and they just leave their mobile data switched on even when they’re not using it?? My ee sim is showing 70 mbs! Says it all really.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      That isn’t a case of the mast not handling the connections, its a lack of back-haul provision to the core.

    3. blueacid says:

      Contention ratios are pretty terrible as a way of telling how crowded even a fixed line service is. With mobile it’s even worse – given that people can move around. A mast near a football stadium might be blisteringly quick on a Tuesday morning, but during a match it might be completely swamped.

      As for why contention ratio is a bit of a dud metric, see this: https://www.revk.uk/2017/05/contention-ratios.html

  12. Shane R Smith says:

    I’m in loughborough at LE11 4UG. It’s 11.30pm on a Saturday. I’m getting 4 mbs!! Showing a 4g+on my xiaomi redmi 9. I hotshot my phone to my tablet and fortunately I’m a single user. At 1am forward this goes right up to 40 mbs. I think a lot of people have there really cheap unlimited data plans (like myself) so they just leave their mobile data switched on even when they’re not using it? I also have an EE sim in my phone and this is showing 70 mbs.

  13. Shane R Smith says:

    Sometimes when my 3 mobile data drops to under 10 mbs I switch off my mobile data, wait a few seconds then reconnect and it jumps back up to 20 mbs plus

  14. Robert Lark says:

    Three around Eastbourne are touch and go. Keep having to turn phone on and off for it to work. Scaynes hill hardly a signal. Am moving to EE as the best signal here. Been with three for years. Also found out that new and old customers from April are getting hiked up 4.5% ,so time to move on. Contract runs out 01.21.

    1. Kyle says:

      And have you researched EE’s annual price increase amount?!

  15. Chris Gillingham says:

    I’m with Three and have been with them since 2013, for me I live near London and luckily have the luxury of having loads of masts around me.

    Still paying this little, I’ll have to accept that 3 will have it’s off days and it’s good days.

    Last night streaming radio and it was suffering from packet loss and the stream kept cutting out, yet some days I can drive for miles streaming radio and it will be rock solid.

    I can tether off my phone and watch 4K video streams into my TV and it not miss a bit, then use FaceTime 3 days later and it will be awful.

    If I want better and more consistent service, I’ll have to accept that I need to pay more to another network, I made
    this choice so it’s for me to live with it, sad to see so many others have problems.

  16. Buggerlugz says:

    Three should use your last sentence as a sales pitch for its 4g home broadband Chris.

    “If you want a better and more consistent service, Just accept that you need to pay more for another network, You made the choice to join three so you live with it!”

  17. Bob Jones says:

    Threes problem is a lack of investment in the cellular network.
    As one example look at Peter Clarke’s video of a joint EE and Three site in Belfast.
    EE 4G has a dedicated 10 Gig fibre connection.
    Three 4G shares with the 3G over a 1 Gig fibre connection.

    This is compounded with Three only converting a subset of their 3G sites to support 4G.
    For example: in my local area EE/Three have six sites.
    EE have 4G & 3G on all the sites.
    Three have 3G on all the sites.
    Three have chosen to deploy 4G on only three of the sites.
    Guess which network has worst 4G coverage and the slowest speeds!

  18. Billy Nomates says:

    Has anyone seen a three 100MHz 5G site?

    I’ve only seen 40MHz ones. I can get a reasonable 300mbit down on three 5G but really pathetic upload of less than 10mbit. I’d like to see what their 100MHz sites can do.

    But then when I walked outside of the range of the 5G mast, I got on their 4G and I was getting 1 or 2 mbits and even in a few cases warnings that speed tests could not complete. Their 3G/4G networks are a mess, 5G looks good though. I’ve heard from an employee their refarming is affecting their 4G network. Which seems odd given they must have more 4G customers than 5G.

    1. CJ says:

      They just added 5G to my local tower, but I don’t have a 5G device to test whether it’s 100MHz ‘real’ 5G or just 40MHz. I’m reluctant to buy a 5G device yet, if it’s likely to be the 40MHz version. What surprised me though, they didn’t add 4G band 32 at the same time, even though 4G struggles to get above 20Mbps from B1+B3 and this area is earmarked for ‘upgraded speedy 4G’ on their map.

  19. B Lok says:

    All this work done but still selling people mobile phones that don’t work.

  20. Boomshakalaa says:

    Absolute tosh.Only yesterday afternoon,I had no network connection at all for under an hour.Had to sit and wait till network came back on.And it’s not the first time;and I can guarantee you it’s not going to be the last time, knowing this company.And what gets me is,when you call those assistants,most don’t know what else to do,they will leave you hanging on for a long time and eventually cut you off.

    1. J says:

      I’m just on live chat now to 3 the advisor is not helpful at all. Apparently work is going on till May 2021 and they cant say whether service will be disrupted or not. I said oh no text or email to tell customers of this hey but take full payment each month not good enough

      They do not resolve issues they have no clue and do not answer simple questions. Well they copy and paste off their page

      Shocking service

    2. Leeman says:

      It’s probably because of this very topic that you couldn’t connect to the network.
      They are in the process of going live.
      When you do connect, do a speedtest. Hopefully you will see a massive increase in your speeds.

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      I had this too, router connected, 5 lights, “one click check” says all is “normal”, but no connectivity whatsoever. Seems to happen quite frequently on three.

  21. Terence Jones says:

    Checked here in Cornwall 2.65Mbps download and 0.84 Mbps upload…. luckily have 74Mbps Internet…. come on 3 we need a network boost not just hotspot boost.

  22. Ray says:

    Yeah, right. They “finished Building 20 new datacenters” when they’re actually owned by other companies.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      “The sites, provided by Equinix and Ark, have been spread across the UK.” and have made absolutely no difference whatsoever since coming online. If they even exists.

    2. Who says:

      Calm down bugger. Are the one who started Three is broken on twitter?

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      Nah, that’s someone else. Existed long before I joined three.

  23. Carl says:

    I’m quite lucky since they upgraded the Chester area. I was getting around 0.1-1mbps most of the time.

    Since the upgrade i get a steady 60-80mbps all day long and around 15-20mbps upload.

    Theyre now rolling out 5g in the area, it showed up for 10 mins a few weeks ago with a speed of 250+.

    EE gets 250+ here on 4g, BT – 150+ 4g.

    Hopefully soon enough they’ll roll 5g out further and cover the full city not Boughton for now.

  24. Onkar Randhawa says:

    Ive been with 3 for years and had problems all the time
    Most of the time people can’t get through to me even when l have full reception and sometimes I receive a text a day later.
    Probably time to change network

  25. Jason says:

    I’ve tried Three no less than three times in the last fifteen years. For me the issues are always the same:
    Data speeds very inconsistent, even in the same location
    Patchy signal in urban areas
    Poor or zero signal in rural areas, even where other networks have decent usable signal
    Customer service seem to be primed to blame the handsets and ‘temporary mast outages’ rather than accept that they need to improve/expand the masts and the network
    I just don’t seem to have this kind of trouble with the other networks. The best download speed I ever got with Three was 85 Mbps (although I rarely got half that), swapped to EE using the same handset and got 164 Mbps on the first test and found that I was getting signal in places that wasn’t possible with Three.

    Maybe I’ll give them a go again in a few years, but if I do, it will be a one month rolling contract or Pay as you go.

  26. Buggerlugz says:

    Looking into this Equix have 10 data centres across London and 4 across manchester. Ark have 6 centres between London to Woking and Farnborough with one to the West near Bath.

    So 16 down south and 4 up north.

    I’d love to know how they “spread the load” across Three, do they become a part of Three’s core network? or do Three just lease a few racks in each location?

    1. chris says:

      Mobile operator Three UK has today gone live with their new “world’s first” software-based cloud core network, which sits in a virtual environment and will be used to underpin the launch of their new ultrafast 5G based mobile broadband services next month (as well as existing 4G services).


  27. John says:

    I am no customer of Three, although I was until around 2015. Up until recently I worked for a major telecoms provider, working on major dark fibre projects. I can confirm Three are investing heavily in both their core/backhaul via SSE (and probably others). The core side contains multiple 100gb links, and utilises DWDM, so should be easily upgradeable. The mast side of things, unsure about equipment but as it’s a dark fibre product I can only assume it will utilise DWDM so in theory a lot of bandwidth can be allocated to a mast

  28. Jamie says:

    Three should have invested in upgrading their network years ago, before making unlimited data packages for customers.The network cannot cope with MNVOs attached to it.

    Was a three customer when they first switched on 3G.

    As a long term customer i left Three due network latency and network congestion, I had line site to MBNL site approx 1 mile from the site and still slow on LTE Advanced Network 3.2Mbps and slower 0.89!
    VoLTE 1800Mhz is good, I assumed it was band 20 800MHz !

    If you want speed avoid Three.

  29. Dan says:

    We are on Three home 5G with an external antenna with line-of-sight to a mast ~500+ down (though only ~70 on a single connection test). We had 5 hours of (unannounced, natch) downtime on Sat AM, after which speeds haven’t really changed (maybe ping is slightly better), but on Speedtest.net we can see our ‘exit’ to the internet is now around Bristol, rather than London previously.

    We’ve had several of these outages, 2 days a couple of weeks ago, and cust serv suggested it might be off until December!

    Have to say, customer service is beyond appalling – hang ups, bullshit explanations – but this time, (on Sat) – a clear ‘we are making changes, and it will be couple of hours (which is was).

    The service is great when it works, but terrible in practice – unannounced outages, useless (uninformed) customer services.

    It’s pretty galling a company selling home broadband that we rely on so much right now can decide to just cut us off with no warning or providing an alternative in the meanwhile while giving no clear info to their service agents. Total Fail. They are to be avoided for now I think.

  30. I says:

    I have had speeds of 3-4 mbps in my house with Vodafone since February 2020, which is when I took the contract. Now from the beginning of this months the speeds have gone up to a stable 30 mbps on 4G and still no sign of 5G on my 5G phone, despite the coverage map showing full 5G signal in my postcode. Therefore, you can imagine how long that took and how many hours I have had to spend with these idiotic customer service people over the phone. It goes without saying that if Vodafone, the so-called second best network in the UK, can take this long, then what can you expect from Three? Vodafone’s customer support plays the same game as Three’s saying that the issue will be resolved in the next 72 hours, next week or next month etc…

  31. Ed Rees says:

    I live by a coupe of Three 5G sites and the network performance is pretty incredible – typically 6-700Mbps download, 50-60Mbps upload and ping times around 15ms. The network does still slow down but rarely goes below 150Mbps download in peak periods.

  32. Ana says:

    Hi, I live in the Teddington area and for the whole of last week the 4G signal has been down throughout the day and 3G is back from around 16.00pm. The customer service is appalling, they just tell me that it will take 7 days for them to investigate the problem!!! their website is saying that they are carrying out network improvements in the area but nobody can tell me when these will be finished. Does anybody live around this area experiencing the same? so frustrating when you have to work from home!

  33. Quintin says:

    Yesterday I got a 3 PAYG sim and put 1GB on it – I got a whopping 3mbps up and 1.6mbps down. It went right in the bin.

    I then went and ordered EE as they really are the best and in my area certainly

  34. lee says:

    been with 3 15 years and have no intention of leaving them, just locked in at a new best price deal of £16 a month unlimited everything, up to 70 meg down 22 up in my living room, bought another sim from them at same price same deal, put that into the best 4g router in the world (netgear nighthawk) and i get even better speads

    a phone is not always the best option to use for teathing etc, not all phones can even reach the download speeds the tower is putting out, ive confirmed this many times by ALWAYS getting faster speeds when using my nighthawk over ANY phone

  35. Robert C-H says:

    22/12/2020, 16:00. Left home in the car heading south, noted the phone signal was unusually full scale. A friend left in another car heading east, signal for him was also unusually full scale, as we chatted on the phone about the signal strength, it suddenly dropped at exactly the same time to 2 bar for him and 3 bar for me.
    What are they testing I wonder, has it finally dawned on someone that hiding towers in tree’s is just not a good idea.

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