Just over a year ago we were all told that 2020 would be the year the UK's 5G services would be coming online. Then things changed. Last May EE said it was aiming for a 2019 launch (which it accomplished), in September Vodafone also confirmed it wanted consumer 5G to be available this year, and back in February O2 pulled its launch date forward as well. Now it's Three's turn to scrap the 2020 goal and launch 5G way ahead of schedule.
Three has confirmed that its done lots of successful 5G trials in London, and as a result it will be launching a 5G home broadband service in the capital this August. On top of that it's promised 5G mobile and broadband services will launch in 25 towns and cities across the UK before the end of the year.
For those of you keeping count, it means Three may well have the widest 5G coverage by the time the year is up. EE currently only offers 5G in six cities, and promised a total of 16 locations will have 5G before the end of the year. Vodafone's current promise is seven, while O2's gunning for the four capital cities.
On top of this Three claims that it owns twice as much 5G spectrum than its nearest competitor, meaning it will be able to offer "the UK's fastest 5G network". The press release also says that Three's the only network "who can offer a ‘true’ 5G experience which requires 100MHz of 5G spectrum, as set out by the ITU, the global standards body on 5G technology." Three claims its speeds will be at least twice as fast as the competition at peak times. Plus it's apparently powered by Nokia tech, in case you were worried about Huawei.
Other promises are internet speeds comparable to fibre broadband with 'plug and play' 5G hubs, as well as the goal of expanding 5G services across 80 per cent of its network traffic over the next three years. Furthermore, Three isn't ignoring its 4G network (which has always been a bit spottier than the others), promising a 400% improvement in both speed and capacity by deploying more 4G spectrum and converting old 3G spectrum.
There's no exact dates on when services will actually launch, beyond the fairly vague timeframes already mentioned. That said 5G will be hitting the following locations:
London, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, and Wolverhampton.
We'll bring you more news as we get it.