Three boosts 4G speeds by up to a third with carrier aggregation

Three has rolled out carrier aggregation technology across parts of its network, boosting speeds by up to a third and increasing capacity in major cities.

Carrier aggregation involves the combination of multiple spectrum bands and is used by a number of operators around the world, including EE and Vodafone in the UK, to boost network quality.

More than 2,700 sites on Three’s network have been upgraded and the functionality is live in major cities such as Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Three 4G speeds

The technology responds to usage in real time, so will activate during periods of high data demand. Three says more than half of the devices that use its network support carrier aggregation and customers will know when they are using it because ‘4G+’ will appear on their device.

Three says the upgrade will boost its 4G network significantly as it prepares for the rollout of 5G and help its customers who consume three and a half times more mobile data than the industry average.

“Three customers are the highest consumers of data, with this trend expected to continue for several years,” said Three CEO Dave Dyson. “As we ready our network for 5G, we’re moving quickly to put the right technology in place to deliver the most reliable mobile experience for our customers. This latest innovation plays a critical role in ensuring our customers will be able to make the most of their mobile devices, both now and in the future.”

Three has seen half year revenues rise to £1.2 billion and customer figures reach 10.1 million. Dyson told TechRadar Pro earlier this year that it sees 5G as an opportunity to lead the UK market for the first time thanks to its spectrum holdings – especially those in the 3.4GHz band.

In preparation for 5G trials to be held later this year, Three has agreed a deal with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to provide fibre connectivity to sites and data centres and with Huawei for network equipment. Dyson has suggested late 2020 would be the probably launch date for Three’s 5G service.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.