5G has finally overtaken 3G in the UK

Close up of the iPhone 13 Pro notch.
(Image credit: Future)

Out with the old, in with the new – a new report by Three looking at 5G usage across the UK has found. 

The mobile network has released its Mobile Britain 2022 study, showing that 5G services have never been more popular. 

So popular, in fact, that more UK consumers are using its 5G services than its 3G services for the first time.

5G push

Three says it has seen usage of the latest mobile standard surge by an incredible 385% since 2020. These figures are likely driven by the widespread adoption of 5G-capable handsets, including the iPhone 13 and Samsung Galaxy S22 ranges. 

"5G has taken off like never before and it’s telling that it has now surpassed 3G data usage on our network," said Three's Carlo Melis. "Superfast connectivity is the future for our customers – with sport and entertainment streaming two of the key drivers of data surges in the last year."

"To keep up with the demand for data, we are investing more than £2 billion in transforming our network and IT infrastructure, with 5G now live in over 370 locations covering more than a third of the UK population."

A streaming boom drives 5G

The report also delved into some of the reasons why 5G has seen a surge in popularity. Three says that streaming on Sunday evenings has driven usage, with 30% of those surveyed saying that they're more likely to watch TV and movies on a quiet evening than in previous years.

Unsurprisingly, football has been a major factor too. 2021 had the Euros, Olympics, and US Open – not to mention the Premier League and Champions League – and streaming live games is a big data user. 

According to Three, around 81% of monthly data peaks are linked to football matches in the UK.

Finally, Three found that the old fashioned phone call is on the up. During lockdown, voice calls reached record highs and were around 16% longer on average. 

The trend has continued into 2022, as Britons continue to speak over the phone with friends and family regularly. 

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.