Earlier this week, Three became the third UK operator to launch 5G in the United Kingdom, changing its network in parts of central London.
Unlike EE and Vodafone, Three only offers fixed wireless broadband (FWA) for now, but has a long-term vision of also offering the country's fastest 5G service for smartphones.
The smallest UK operator has consistently stated that he believes 5G will allow him to lead the market for the first time thanks to its spectrum
Thanks to the auction wins and the acquisition of UK Broadband, Three says he has The most usable 5G spectrum of any network in the UK and that has 100 MHz of 3.4 GHz contiguous waves that will allow you to offer the highest reliable connection speed.
5G FWA has often been promoted as a way to reach more remote parts of the country in a cost-effective way, after all, there is no need to lay fiber cables, but Three also presents its product as flexible, & # 39 ; connect and play & # 39; alternative to fiber.
An experience & # 39; similar to fiber & # 39;
"We know from our research that broadband customers don't want to pay for what they don't need, like line rental," Dave Dave, CEO of Three. Dyson tells TechRadar Pro . "They don't like to expect things like engineering visits and the complexity of [transferring broadband] when they move out of the house, they don't like RPI walks."
The ability to offer FWA has been possible for some time – UK Broadband & # 39; s Relish has offered FWA in 4G, but the 5G capability means it can match reliability and experience. And this extends to unlimited data.
Because home users tend to use more bandwidth than mobile users, it has been seen as a risky proposition to give them unlimited data because it could negatively affect other users on the network.
Three says that 5G FWA offers a "fiber-like" experience, with Dyson arguing that most applications require less than 10Mbps, while households use data-intensive applications such as 4K transmission or with concurrent users who They need up to 50-60Mbps.
"We believe 5G FWA can address weak points and compete with fixed providers largely with speeds exceeding 100 Mbps."
However, most of the fiber broadband in the United Kingdom is currently driven by Fiber to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology, while fiber technology to facilities (FTTP) will likely become the predominant technology in the future.
This means speed will become les s of a pain point and 5G FWA will lose some of its advantage.Future advances to the 5G infrastructure of Three, of course, will increase real-world speeds, but Three says it is not aimed at advanced users.
"We are not looking for a 100% market share, we just need the market to be large enough," Agr ega Dyson.
Dyson wants FWA to be included in government talks on ultrafast broadband, suggesting that there is too much focus on FTTP. He says that too much attention is paid to technology rather than the needs of the end user.
"[5G FWA] technology is complementary [to fibre]," he says. “Getting the UK to fully develop will take a decade. If you want to get ultrafast broadband as quickly as possible, you can do it quickly and more profitably [with 5G FWA]. ”
However, such a claim does not indicate that Three's 5G coverage will be widespread. Most mobile traffic is generated in urban areas well served by mobile infrastructure, rather than in rural areas that others believe FWA can have a great impact.
Huawei, for example, does not believe that most of the United Kingdom has access to 5G until 2027.
What is & # 39; real 5G & # 39 ;?
The final scope of Three's coverage has not yet been determined, but ultimately 5G will be available to all three customers at no additional cost. This contrasts with some of its rivals that charge premiums and impose data limits.
"5G as a technology is more efficient: the cost per gigabit is less than 4G," Dyson explains. "We don't see that as an opportunity to extract more profits but to improve the experience.
" We have had unlimited for more than a decade and it is something we have worked hard to maintain. Unlimited serves two groups of customers: one that uses it a lot and values what they get, and another group that cares about its use. For them, it is a form of insurance policy. "
Three spectrum assets form the basis of their marketing campaign. Advertising billboards and newspaper wrappers boldly state that if" there are not three, it is not real 5G " When asked about the claims, Dyson said they were a mixture of boldness and reality.
“If you observe the standards of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), they say that to get a true 5G experience you need a minimum 100MHz spectrum, "he says. "That is part of the fact.
" Of course EE and Vodafone have launched [5G services] but the reality is that, whether 100MHz as standard or not, our 5G service uses twice the spectrum and in practice that means double the capacity. "
" I really believe that we are building the fastest 5G network in the United Kingdom. "
As part of its 5G launch, Three began migrating customers to a new central network based on the cloud built by Nokia. The new core facilitates and speeds up the implementation of new services, improves infrastructure profitability and reduces latency.
About five percent of traffic is now handled by the new core, while 80 percent of customers have interacted with it.
Three has said it plans to launch 5G mobile in 25 towns and cities before the end of 2019, but could not give a more specific date.
"It's different for [5G] smartphones," he said. He says. "We need more sites for customers to have a genuine 5G experience, it's about having the central network running and having some of the IT elements in place. They'll remember if it's a junk experience.
Dyson couldn't give an update on the expected pace of implementation due to the complexities of building and updating the infrastructure.The former complaint of the site and owner access industry was cited as one of the reasons.
But he insists that 5G it will be transformative for Three as a company.
"The perception of the network is something that stops us in terms of customer acquisition," he says. "It's a perception problem, not a network one.
" I think leading in 5G is an opportunity to change our brand. "