Three, a mobile operator in the United Kingdom since 2003, has signed a contract with SSE Enterprise Telecoms to improve capacity on the company’s existing 4G network, and prepare for a future 5G rollout.
SSE Enterprise will be responsible for creating fiber optic connections to Three’s core data centers, located throughout the United Kingdom. In later phases, SSE and Three UK will unbundle BT exchanges, which will also help prepare the network for 5G, which is expected to become commercially available in the next two to three years.
Preparing the network for future end-user capacity and transmission demands is the main reason for the work Three has assigned to SSE. Bryn Jones, Three UK CTO, noted, “Our customers use up to 3.5 times more data than the rest of the UK, a demand which is only going to increase as we move toward a 5G world.”
He also said that the decision to use SSE Enterprise Telecoms to help improve network infrastructure was easy. “Their knowledge and ambitions for UK connectivity were clear and made them the natural choice.”
While Three serves mostly individual customers, the Financial Times reported that it has begun a large-scale investment to attract business clients, in a growth strategy that aims to double the size of the company.
Three did attempt to purchase an existing company, O2, to gain an established business clientele, but that acquisition was blocked by EU regulators as detrimental to competition.
Without the option of buying a foothold in the enterprise market, therefore, Three UK must attract business clients by upgrading networks and services to make its offerings more attractive to companies. Upgrading the existing 4G network, and laying the groundwork to launch 5G services, is just one way of doing that.
Earlier this month, Ofcom auctioned off 5G spectrum to the top four mobile operators in the UK. In the auction, which generated more than double the expected revenue, Vodafone won 50MHz, EE and O2 each won 40MHz, and Three won 20MHz. In the end, the auction generated almost £ 1.4 billion for Ofcom.