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Three UK Sees Average Mobile Data Usage Per User Hit 19GB

Thursday, Mar 17th, 2022 (9:43 am) - Score 4,896
three uk mobile broadband

Mobile operator Three UK has today revealed that the average 4G and 5G data usage (mobile broadband), per customer, per month on their network jumped to 19GB (GigaBytes) in Dec 2021, which is up from 15.8GB a year ago. Ookla (Speedtest.net) also found that they delivered the fastest 5G download speeds in Q3-Q4 2021.

The operator’s latest Q4 2021 results revealed that the coverage of their 5G network has now reached more than a third of the UK population, across 370 towns and cities, with more than 2500 sites live. In addition, they claim to carry 28% of mobile data traffic in the country (source: Enders UK Mobile Market Q3-21).

On top of this, they’ve also claimed to be the “Fastest 5G network in the UK throughout 2021,” which is based on data from Ookla’s latest mobile broadband speedtest survey between Q3 and Q4 2021, where Three scored an average (median) download of 258.80Mbps (vs a market average of 176.22Mbps) on 5G connections.

However, Ookla’s data also revealed that they delivered slower 5G upload speeds than rivals EE and Vodafone, while at the same time suffering from the slowest overall latency time of 35ms (milliseconds). But admittedly, latency performance won’t show the benefits of 5G, for any operator, until Standalone (SA) networks become common (i.e. they’re currently hobbled by existing 4G technology).

Ookla’s UK Mobile Data Speeds for Q3-Q4 2021

Ookla mobile data speeds UK q3 q4 2021

Three’s Financial Highlights (Q4 2021)

➤ Revenue up 4% to £2.44bn.

➤ EBITDA up by 10% YOY to £609m (2020: £553m) due to an increase in margin supported by new lines of business (B2B & SMARTY), a record year for wholesale, coupled with a continued focus on cost efficiencies.

➤ Active contract customer base up 7% YOY, adding more than half a million subscribers to bring total to 8m.

➤ Handset revenue up 13% to £772m (2020: £682m).

➤ Registered contract churn fell from 1.4% to 1.3%, due to a focus on execution and retention programmes.

➤ Capex of £784m (2020: £764m) as a result of ongoing investment in the network and digital transformation.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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23 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Steve says:

    I used to use 20-30gb until WFH happened, now I use about 2gb.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

    2. Avatar photo M says:

      When you WFH, your phone is almost always on your home WiFi.

    3. Avatar photo jrhop says:

      Yeah I struggle to use more than 2GB now when WFH. Still don’t know get what people are doing to use 30GB+ a month, must be charging their phones 2-3 times a day.

    4. Avatar photo CJ says:

      Three is my home wifi. My mobile broadband sim is in a mains-powered 5G router. So I’m dragging up the average (and I only use 100’s of GB, not multiple TB like Anon below).

      My home wifi is 30Mbps down and 4 Mbps up. Three is between 10-30 times faster. It makes no sense to use the FTTC line and I will cancel it at the end of the contract.

      If Virgin or FTTP arrives, I’ll switch to one of those and my mobile usage will plummet.

  2. Avatar photo Michael says:

    Yeah my usage has gone up more. Usually streaming music & things in the car as I drive around Wales!
    Close to about 100gb with video & audio.

  3. Avatar photo Bent says:

    I use about over 100 gig a month on my unlimited sim contract with three basically 4k hdr YouTube videos

    1. Avatar photo jrhop says:

      Watching on your phone or hotspoting with other devices?

    2. Avatar photo Bent says:

      On my phone .

  4. Avatar photo jrhop says:

    What do you do on your phone to use 60GB a month?

  5. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    Interesting. My own usage is single-digits GB a month at the moment. To be fair my usage at home isn’t especially heavy despite constant consumption of streamed content. No use of Usenet, P2P, etc, and rolling at a TB a month or less, depending what gets patched when and how large the patches are.

  6. Avatar photo Mike says:

    I think the main constraint on usage with Three is their 4G speeds.

  7. Avatar photo Wegen says:

    I have been using three exactly one year today.Here in Chapeltown, their service is so shocking.Through out the year they kept sending message for patience as they are working in improving the network.Though nothing has happened.Its not completely working inside the house and you should go out to speak a telephone. I have experience in 4 continent I never see such poor service anywhere. SO,BAD POOR

  8. Avatar photo PatrickM says:

    I use between 500 and 600GB per month with Three, mainly streaming and bit torrent. I live in Birmingham and I get 4G speeds of up to 24Mb/s but that’s at 3-5am. During peak times it goes down to 8Mb/s or less.

  9. Avatar photo Ben Smith says:

    This whole 5G thing is a load a nonsense while the MNOs are just deploying at the Macro level. Until they deploy at a high frequency micro level using small cells as part of a cloud based network, we wont get true 5G with huge bandwidth and ultra low latency.
    Moreover, where they have deployed 5G at the macro level alongside 4G, the 5G seems to get really congested already such that its actually often better to use the 4G service.
    What the MNO’s are doing currently might as well be called fake 5G because it offers no real benefits against 4G.

    1. Avatar photo CJ says:

      Tell that to my local council. I’ve tried but they still refuse to grant permission for any new street poles, telling operators to stick to their existing sites.

      I was disappointed to see the recent planning review stopped short of granting permitted development rights for new poles up to a certain height, so the council can keep refusing permission and force operators to go through the lengthy appeals process every time.

  10. Avatar photo Sam says:

    I can tell, the network has slowed down drastically over the last 2 years.

  11. Avatar photo GNewton says:

    Why would someone use 6TB on a home broadband? Are they watching 4K video streams all day long, 24/7 ?

  12. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

    I enjoy torrenting, and due to some rubbish upload speeds from BT I sometimes use a mobile network. A couple of months ago my usage was 3 TB of heavily outbound traffic, so far this month after two weeks my usage is sitting just below 1.5 TB. Glancing at the upload speed chart on my torrent client, no cursory evidence of throttling is noticable other than a slight speed decline during the day and a subsequent boost at night (also bear in mind the traffic is routed through a VPN, your milage may vary).

    In the past I have used a piggyback unlimited data plan on O2’s network, but my account with them was permanently closed and I was banned from the network for exceeding 2 TB of monthly usage. Since then I’ve switched to a Vodafone reseller and had no problems the with volumes of traffic stated above.

    As unlimited mobile data plans increase in availability, it’s reasonable to assume that the number heavy users, such as myself, will also increase. Although my use case is specific, it shows that the decadent copper lines are not able withstand the volume of data a customer in 2022 may demand.

    1. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      To be fair ‘enjoying torrenting’ isn’t a big use case many people are going to demand and no ISP wants to satisfy that if they can help it. They can’t for now but there’s nothing stopping government from repealing network neutrality.

  13. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    There are a very few lawful uses, most of them against the T&Cs of most ISPs, and of course the obvious digital hermit behaviour downloading content that’s never going to be used because it’s there.

    Home office usage won’t come close, streaming won’t come close.

  14. Avatar photo Paul johns says:

    You guys are weak and poor joined three in 2020 unlimited sim deal purchased a tplink 4g router checked my usage over 80TB yes that in 2 years I done 80Tb the best month was 7tb nonstop uploading to youtube 24/7 not one word from 3 about this usage level l.

  15. Avatar photo NotAFanboy says:

    Check ThreeUKsupport twitter feed… up & down the country non stop issues with signal/ coverage/ outages/ non stop customer complaints, so what is really going on? does anyone know?

    These problems even before the sale of sites to Cellnex.

    Ive been travelling around & Ive had issues with 3 myself. Zero to one bar 3G signal outdoors (if that) in 2022 its beyond ridiculous.

    When you have 4G/5G issues Three advise you to switch to non existent 3G (launched in 03 03 03) lol what a joke.

    Mobile broadband has the same issues (same network so not surprising)

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