4G network provider Three has today announced plans to boost the speed, performance, and capacity of its network by rolling out additional spectrum.
Three has stated that its 4G customers will enjoy a faster and more reliable experience following the rollout, which is expected to increase speeds by up to 50% across the UK. The provider is switching on 5 MHz of the 1800 MHz spectrum which will help to increase speeds but also reliability as it will provide additional capacity in overly congested locations.
The extra spectrum has already been made available to Three sites in the north of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the West Midlands, and other parts of the UK, including London, will follow shortly.
According to Bryn Jones, Chief Technology Officer at Three, “Many of our 4G customers will already be enjoying a faster, more reliable experience at no extra cost. Our network processes a huge amount of data and we will continue to work hard on providing them with a service that delivers the reliability and speed that they need.”
The rollout of additional spectrum is part of Three’s #makeitright campaign and the provider’s philosophy of challenging the industry to make mobile better for everyone. This included the roll out of Super Voice last month which made Three the first UK 4G operator to launch a VoLTE service.
So how does Three stack up against other 4G providers in the UK?
EE has been far and away the best performing 4G network in the UK for the last couple of years, and it could be argued it had something of a head start. But the Rootmetrics report for the first half of 2015 seems to suggest that it may soon be getting some competition from Three. In terms of overall performance Three came second with a score of 84.7, compared with EE’s winning score of 89.4. Vodafone and O2 trailed the two with scores of 74.5 and 72.7 respectively.
In terms of reliability the gap was even closer, with Three coming joint top with EE in Scotland and Wales, and coming in a very close second in other regions. According to the report, “Although Three did not win any of our UK RootScore Awards, it earned second-place finishes in five of our six categories. Three’s reliability has long been a hallmark of the network, and our testing across the UK showed this to once more be a strong suit. EE finished atop the Network Reliability Index, but the margin of separation was extremely small.” Three itself makes much of the fact it has been rated most reliable network according to YouGov consumer research for the last five quarters.
Network speed is where Three has struggled to keep up, and in the Rootmetrics results the provider was overtaken by Vodafone for network speed in England, slipping into third place ahead of O2. In London median download speeds were recorded as 7.0 Mbps, while the fastest median download speeds were recorded in Bristol at 9.5 Mbps. Hopefully the roll out of new spectrum will go some way to addressing this issue and increasing speeds across the network.