Three sees big data usage increase ahead of 5G launch

(Image credit: Three UK)

Three revenues dropped during the first half of 2019 despite the addition of more customers and an increase in data consumption.

The operator’s customer base increased by 1 per cent to 10.2 million over the past six months, of which seven million are on a contract. Handset churn was 1.1 per cent, while the average data per customer rose by 29 per cent to 9.1GB a month.

Despite these gains, revenue fell by two per cent to £1.17 billion.

Three 5G spectrum

However, Three is confident that the imminent arrival of its 5G service will be a huge opportunity for the company. Over the period it has launched a cloud-based core network and revealed it won’t charge customers any additional fee for accessing 5G.

There are plans to cover 25 towns and cities with 5G before the end of 2019, with Three promising it will deliver the “fastest” 5G network of any operator. Its optimism is fuelled by its spectrum holdings, which it claims are the largest and will be able to support growing demand for data more efficiently.

The next stage of its network build will see it deploy ‘L-band’ spectrum across the UK. Three acquired a chunk of 1400MHz L-band spectrum from Qualcomm in 2015 and can be paired with other spectrum using carrier aggregation.

“The second half of 2019 will see the most important and exciting milestone in our history since we launched the UK’s first 3G network in 2003,” said Three CEO Dave Dyson.

“Three has a long history of putting UK consumers first and the launch of the UK’s fastest 5G network using our leading 5G spectrum portfolio and investment in world class cloud-based infrastructure means that we can disrupt the UK’s home broadband network, at the same time as serving our data hungry mobile customers. 

“Against this backdrop of huge investment in network and IT infrastructure and some dual running costs as we reach this milestone, I am pleased with the underlying strength of the business.”

Three will become the third UK operator, after EE and Vodafone, to launch 5G when it switches on its offering later this month.