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Three UK Sees Average Mobile Data Usage Per User Hit 30GB

Thursday, Mar 21st, 2024 (9:38 am) - Score 2,800
Three-UK-Red-SIM-Card

Mobile operator Three UK has this morning published their annual financial results, which reveals that over 4,700 sites (up from 4,250 last year) across 650 towns and cities are now live with 5G and the average data (mobile broadband) usage per customer has reached 30 GigaBytes per month (up by 19.52% from 25.1GB).

However, despite the progress, it’s possible to see a significant slowdown in Three UK’s 5G rollout because they only added 450 sites in the last year and that’s down from the 2,050 added in the prior year (when total sites went from 2,200 to 4,250). Unfortunately, the operator hasn’t included a % coverage figure for population (last year it was 61%), which makes it tricky to get the full context as not all sites are the same size.

NOTE: Customers taking one of Three UK’s 5G based Home Broadband plans saw average data usage, per user, per month of 374GB.

Meanwhile, Three’s active customer base grew by 3% or 310,000 year-on-year, which is half the 6% increase we saw last year and this brings their total base to over 10.6 million. But their B2B customer base increased by 67%, while 5G Home Broadband almost doubled and MVNO provider SMARTY surpassed 1 million customers, with 37% growth.

The operator also replaced equipment (Huawei) on more than 350 sites to comply with the Government’s requirements for High-Risk Vendor legislation, expanded their 4G and 5G network in London Underground stations to 18 locations, completed construction of 150 sites as part of the UK’s 4G Shared Rural Network (SRN) project and launched the SCONDA project to trial small cell OpenRAN in an urban environment in Glasgow city centre.

Robert Finnegan, CEO of Three UK, said:

“I am pleased to report another year of progress for Three UK.

This year we have successfully increased our customer base, delivered topline revenue growth, and improved our margin. This was largely driven by the performance of certain segments such as SMARTY, 5G Home Broadband and B2B.

But the cost of rolling out and maintaining our 5G network, and our commitment to improving connectivity across the UK, has impacted our profitability with negative reported EBIT for the first time since 2010.

This financial performance is clearly unsustainable despite scaling back our 5G investment. With the current market structure of four MNOs, where there are two scaled players who have the ability to invest but do not face enough competitive pressure to do so, and two players (Three UK and Vodafone) who lack the scale to be credible challengers, the UK will continue to lag behind on 5G. The UK has the slowest data download speeds in the G7 and ranks 22nd out of 25 European countries in terms of 5G availability and download speeds.

We are committed to improving our service for our customers and our country, creating additional jobs, and supporting the digital transformation that is taking place across the UK. The merger with Vodafone will enable the investment of £11bn in the UK over 10 years to create one of Europe’s most advanced standalone 5G networks in full support of Government targets.”

Speaking of the financial side, Three UK saw revenues increase 3% to £2.59bn (2022: £2.52bn), but their operating expenses increased to £1.02bn up 23%* y-o-y (2022: £828m) due to increased network and IT running costs, greater site numbers and inflationary pressures. Reported CAPEX also hit £454m, down 39% y-o-y (2022: £743m).

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
14 Responses
  1. Avatar photo jammie1408 says:

    I actually quite surprised due to the fact that networks outages and customers leaving the network, due to recent networks disruption over the last few months.

  2. Avatar photo Jim says:

    Me being the ever sceptical person I am, surely showing that the 5g rollout has slowed down helps with the argument for the merger.

    I’m still against the merger but it will get passed after phase 2

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      One possible catch here is that the operators may want to slow the roll-out ahead of any merger, so as to avoid duplicating their investment if it’s approved.

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      or they have limited resources and focused on Huawei sites to get them removed, rather than upgrading sites to 5g?

      though all speculation without them providing the detail 🙂

    3. Avatar photo Jacob Milner says:

      I doubt it, Three are under a huge fraud investigation.

      More chance of staff being jailed than that merger going ahead.

  3. Avatar photo Len Beeton says:

    Three, like all of UK Mobile providers needs to stop mid contract price hikes as it is an unfair practice. There should also be “loyalty” offers for customers who have been faithful to their chosen company.

    1. Avatar photo Jim says:

      100%, an absolute joke.

    2. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Use a MVNO which usually doesn’t have the usual BS from the main networks.

      Smarty or iD mobile are good options on Three. No price increases, monthly contracts, better (text) support, EU roaming included, etc.

  4. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

    An average of 30GB! Doesn’t anyone use WiFi?

    1. Avatar photo Jim says:

      The average user pays what, 35-50 pounds a month for broadband since they don’t know about discounts? And then they see a Smarty ad and can get 100GB-unlimited for £10-20/month with good enough speeds. For someone that doesn’t need a fixed line at home, mobile broadband or their phone’s hotspot is a good and cheaper alternative.

      The new generation of internet users also use more data, so even with Wi-Fi at home, it’s not a surprise to see the average going up.

      In any case, Three always carried more data per user than other networks. The average on a network like O2 is probably much lower.

    2. Avatar photo bert says:

      1GB a day when you are out and about.

      Sounds about right.

      You can’t use your home wifi if you go to the shops…..

  5. Avatar photo Blake says:

    Every press release Three put out these days has to crowbar in the “we definitely need to get this merger approved” at the end. I saw it coming a mile off after the first couple of paragraphs

  6. Avatar photo Anon says:

    Other networks already have forecasts of hitting the mid 40s by 2026. Data usage is only going up. Networks will have to adapt to that in a way that doesn’t burn money.

  7. Avatar photo Jo says:

    Very curious to know the average GB usage on other networks.

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