Three UK continues 5G network preparation

Three UK has continued its preparations for the rollout of 5G with an enhanced agreement with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to connect Three’s network to hundreds of BT exchanges*. This will enable the mobile network to connect thousands of mast sites to its core network using fibre.  

The new infrastructure will not only lay the groundwork for 5G, but will also improve the experience for Three customers using 4G. Fibre will allow the mobile operator to increase its network capacity twenty times, supporting the expected explosion in mobile data usage. Based on current Ofcom projections, Three UK customers are set to use around 90GB per month by 2025**.

The increased download speeds, and faster loading time of 5G, will allow consumers to download an HD film in seconds (thereby removing the need to stream). Fibre will also improve network reliability, as well as enable new applications in the internet of things. Initial deployments of next generation mobile services are expected to begin in H2 2019 when the first 5G capable handsets and home broadband devices are released by manufacturers. 

This latest stage of Three UK’s network improvements will allow Three to fully maximise its leading 5G spectrum portfolio and follows an agreement signed with Nokia to build the world’s first fully virtualized 5G-ready core network**. 

The multi-million-pound deal with SSE Enterprise Telecoms builds on a framework agreement announced in April. It was previously announced that SSE Enterprise Telecoms will provide a fibre resilience ring connecting all of Three’s data centres as a back-up to the main supplier for these sites. 

Bryn Jones, chief technology officer at Three UK, said,

“By significantly increasing our access to fibre, we are putting our network on the best footing possible to take advantage of the benefits of 5G technology. Our customers use 3.5 times more data per month than the average UK consumer and this deal will help us maintain our leadership in providing a fantastic data service.  Fibre is essential to the UK’s digital future and more needs to be done to improve its availability to ensure that the UK benefits from 5G at the earliest opportunity.”

Colin Sempill, Managing Director at SSE Enterprise Telecoms, said,

“5G will allow Three UK to grow capacity on its network more than twenty-fold. But for 5G to live up to its potential, the right infrastructure must be in place. High capacity fibre connectivity is absolutely critical. We’re fully invested in supporting the UK’s digital ambitions, demonstrated in our recent investments in expanding our network, and it’s exciting for us to be playing such an important role in Three UK’s journey towards a 5G future for consumers and businesses.”    



Notes to Editors

Media Contacts:

Three UK Press Office
Tel: + 44 7454 959 715


Notes to editors

*Agreement will connect the Three network to an initial 170 BT exchanges and up to 270 more longer-term, which will support fibre deployments to circa 6,000 masts in the urban areas of the UK

**Ofcom Mobile Data Strategy, June 2016


About Three UK

Three UK is a communications company focused on making the industry better for everyone.

We want to give customers a quality, reliable experience and address the industry issues that frustrate them.

We continue to look at ways of improving the services we offer our customers.

Three UK carries 28% of the UK’s mobile data traffic. Our network covers 98% of the UK population.

Three UK is part of the CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd group of companies which has mobile operations in 11 countries.

Three UK employs more than 4,400 people across its offices in Maidenhead, Glasgow and Reading and its 324 retail stores.

For more information visit


About SSE Enterprise Telecoms

SSE Enterprise Telecoms provides class-leading connectivity and data centre services that deliver very high performance, cost efficiency and a competitive edge. The company operates a 13,700km private telecoms network and an estate of 15 data centres that span the UK. With its extensive telecoms and data centre operational expertise it offers commercial security with unrivalled in-house engineering resource.

With a passionate and conscientious team, as well as the backing of the SSE Group, it continues to invest in the future of its customers, staff, services, and infrastructure. For further information, please visit: or the SSE Enterprise Telecoms blog:

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