What news for Three company users. They are soon observing world high-speed internet in less than 6 weeks. Three UK became the latest mobile operator in the United Kingdom to reveal its commercial 5G launch date, announcing that it will start selling the next-generation mobile service in August.
The market’s fourth-largest operator will start with a more limited offering than rivals EE and Vodafone UK as it will initially only offer a fixed wireless access (FWA) service for home broadband access in London.
Most of the data users in the UK are students from the middle east who rely on data while traveling and daily activity. Students from Arab countries are in the highest proportion of enjoying 5G services.
BT-backed EE has already launched 5G services based on the 5G New Radio non-standalone specification (5G NR NSA) in six cities. Vodafone UK also plans to start offering 5G service in seven cities on July 3.
Three UK is nevertheless aiming to ramp up services fairly quickly with plans to launch 5G mobile and home broadband services in 25 markets by the end of 2019. Its initial focus on 5G FWA is to be expected given its status as a pure-play mobile provider that is competing with converged fixed and mobile heavyweights such as BT/EE, Vodafone UK, and Telefónica-backed O2
The operator is also clearly banking on the fact that it has “more than twice as much 5G spectrum” as its closest competitor, which it said “will deliver significantly faster speeds” for its customers. Indeed, Three UK claims it will be the only operator to offer a “true” 5G experience that requires at least 100 megahertz of the 5G spectrum as set out by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
“This market-leading spectrum portfolio alongside investment in high capacity smart antennas will deliver the fastest 5G network in the U.K.,” the carrier noted. “At launch, peak mobile speeds will be at least 2x faster than other mobile network operators and will provide a more reliable connection and experience for customers.”
Kester Mann, director of consumer and connectivity at analyst firm CCS Insight, thinks that Three UK is right to focus on this spectrum advantage.
“Three’s new-found spectrum wealth will offer greater capacity needed to support the seemingly inexorable rise in data usage,” Mann noted. “Customers of Three already use 7.6 gigabytes (GB) of data per month, more than three times the industry average. Based on projections from [U.K. government regulator] Ofcom, [Three UK CEO Dave Dyson] sees a scenario in which this usage surges to 90 GB per month in 2025.”
5G Speeds Across Europe
After what was a slow start in Europe, 5G rollouts are now gathering pace as operators take advantage of the 5G NR NSA standard that allows them to anchor their services into existing 4G LTE networks. It certainly seems that European operators are keen to be at the forefront of 5G developments and not fall behind other major regions as with 4G LTE.
As well as the U.K., Vodafone has revealed its 5G launch plans in both Italy and Spain, and also said it will offer 5G roaming in Germany, Spain, the U.K., and Italy beginning next month.
In Italy, Vodafone has turned on its 5G network in Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna, and Naples, and is looking to cover 100 cities by 2021. In Spain, Vodafone plans to launch services in cities on June 15. It promises to offer 1 Gb/s speeds at launch, rising to 2 Gb/s by the end of 2019, and latency below 5 milliseconds.
Data and analytics company GlobalData noted that Western European countries are leading 5G development in Europe, with 5G adoption in Denmark, Portugal, and Switzerland set to take a chunk of total mobile subscriptions in their markets by 2023.
According to GlobalData, nationwide 5G coverage is expected to arrive in Denmark by 2020, and Austria by 2025. Central Eastern European (CEE) countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania plan to launch 5G in 2020.
Jonathan Bachrach, the technology analyst at GlobalData, said 5G “is expected to grow quickly in Western Europe over the next five years,” although he pointed out that 4G LTE “will have the largest technology-generation share” through 2023.
Perhaps the latest developments will convince Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm that Europe is stepping up its 5G game. He had previously complained that European government officials and regulators are letting Europe fall behind Asia and the United States in 5G deployments.