Three to start multi-billion network overhaul and 5G preparation

Wednesday, August 2nd 2017

UK's big mobile operator, Three, is going to launch a major overhaul of existing infrastructure and preparation for the arrival of 5G tech, a multi-billion pound exercise. As the demand for data skyrockets over its network, the operator has invited both managed services providers and equipment providers to pitch for the huge deal.

The contract would be to completely replace and manage their communication equipment across UK. The deal is likely to help Three take a lead in the race to introduce 5G technology, that's expected to arrive in the next decade. Hundreds of millions of pounds is expected to be invested by the operator every year, over several years.

Three is the smallest of the 4 main mobile providers in UK, serving 11 million customers. However, they wish to boost capacity to cope up with massive demand for data, thanks to generous tariffs and their young smartphone users, thus accounting for over a third of mobile data traffic.

Three held back investment into its network while in pursuit of a takeover bid last year of O2, which ultimately was blocked owing to competition fears. However, the operator is going for the upgrade, despite a row with regulators about its relatively smaller share of the mobile bandwidth, that prevents it to take up more customers or invest more.

Three is threatening legal action to block an upcoming spectrum auction, to demand restriction on Vodafone and BT, who dominate bandwidth share. This would restrain Ofcom from auctioning spectrum blocks for 5G for now. Rival operators fear this will slow down their 5G roll-out and allow Three to take a dead.

Three's acquisition of UK Broadband for £250 million, has shifted spectrum holding of the wireless broadband operator into its hands and the Relish brand. The Relish type of services is apparently part of Three's plans for upgrade, providing an alternative fixed wireless service, to rival the services provided by giants BT or Virgin Media.

The operator's aggressive marketing is evident, as last month it revealed 'zero-rated' access to those streaming Netflix, thus exempting these subscribers from eroding their data allowances, while watching programmes on Netflix.

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