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By: MarkJ - 15 October, 2010 (6:52 AM)
Mobile Broadband UK mastthree 3 mobile logo ukMobile operator Three (3) has completed "phase one" of its £400m Mobile Broadband network upgrade, which adds 4,900 new sites (an area more than twice the size of Wales) to their 3G coverage. In total they are now home to a whopping 12,400 sites (50,000km² of coverage), significantly more than the 7,500 they started out with.

Three claims that it's 3G population coverage across the UK is now close to 97%, running from places like Lands End to the remote Shetland Islands. However it is notoriously difficult to gauge the real quality of that coverage.

While Three's network reach and capacity has grown, this expansion has also been achieved through consolidating and upgrading equipment, and sharing sites with other providers (i.e. Orange and T-Mobile UK). This has actually led to 5,069 fewer active masts across the country.

Kevin Russell, CEO of Three UK, said:

"Thousands of people across the country have put in a phenomenal amount of work to build the UK’s biggest Mobile Broadband network. Smartphone and Mobile Broadband use is exploding and we have built a 3G network that reaches further than ever before, as well as bringing more capacity into urban areas where our customers need it most."

Today Three's network carries more than 100 Terabytes of data a day, with 40% coming from people streaming media from sites like BBC iPlayer and YouTube, 38% is from web browsing (including web downloads), and close to 6% is from people updating Microsoft software. In addition about 2.5% is now made up of people messaging each other, such as via Skype or MSN.

Apparently, of the 3,300 engineers (8.5m man hours of work) involved in the programme, 8 were attacked by birds. A nice little statistic to add. Three has more than 6.2 million active customers in the UK.
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