Three starts next phase of 5G rollout

(Image credit: Three)

Three has switched on its first 5G sites to be powered by Ericsson’s radio equipment in Manchester, Glasgow and Reading as part of the latest phase of its next-generation rollout.

The operator launched its 5G service earlier this year and like its competitors is staging a gradual deployment. It has now activated 800 sites in 154 towns and cities, promising median download speeds of 200Mbps.

Three had hoped to use Huawei as a major supplier for its 5G infrastructure but UK operators are banned from buying any new Radio Access Network (RAN) kit from the company after this year and must remove any of the Chinese vendor’s 5G technology from their infrastructure by 2027.

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This opened the door for an alternative provider. Nokia already provides the technology that powers Three’s cloud-based core network but Three opted for Ericsson and inked a contract back in Jul;y

The two companies say Ericsson’s RAN capabilities will boost network efficiency and enable the cost-effective and rapid expansion of Three’s 5G service across the country.  

“We’re pleased to have our first Ericsson sites live on our network. Ericsson are a key partner in the transformation of our network,” said Susan Buttsworth, Three UK COO.

“Our customers use 3.5 times more data than the industry average so the investments that we are making are vital to enhancing current performance of our 4G network, futureproofing it and delivering on our promise of providing better connectivity, every day for every customer.” 

The deployment forms part of Three’s £2 billion investment in its network and IT infrastructure, a programme which has seen the company acquire new fibre capabilities and decentralise to a system of 20 regional data centres.  

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.