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Mobile customers' internet use driving Three network improvements

Thursday, November 20th 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Upgrading the cables that support Three’s mobile network is vital because its customers use more data than users on other networks, the company’s chief technical officer has said.

Bryn Jones told Cable.co.uk that Three carries 45% of all the mobile internet traffic in the UK.

“When you compare that to the size of our base, which is about 8 million customers, and compare that to EE, O2 and Vodafone our customers use significantly more data than our competitors’ customers,” he said.

Mr Jones said Three’s 3G network was designed for the internet.

“We’ve always maintained keeping it simple and making sure that we provide the capacity our customers need and the speeds our customers need.”

“What our customers need is consistency of service and be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want to do it.

“To support customer growth and growth in data we need to increase capacity, not just in the air but also in the ground to our cell sites.

“Currently a 3G cell site, for example, would have a 100Mbps to bring the traffic back and we know that for 4G customers we need to grow that to at least 1Gbps.

“That provides us the capacity so that all our customers on a cell site can use data to the full potential of that site.”

He said a new nationwide infrastructure agreement that will see CityFibre supplying dark fibre – fibre cabling already in the ground but not yet connected to carry traffic – to Three’s mobile masts would provide both infinite and a more reliable service for customers.

“The significance of this deal is we really want to separate capacity of the network – the data network that’s provided to us – and the cost.

“The CityFibre project and the dark fibre strategy will provide us with more or less infinite capacity, we just need to upgrade equipment at either end, and we’re not reliant on the managed service provider to provide incremental capacity to us so it starts to separate capacity from cost.”

Mr Jones said Three’s main aim was to provide capacity in the UK’s most populated areas.

“We will be evaluating CityFibre and dark fibre in other metropolitan areas – that’s the main focus,” he added.

“As and when we need to target the rural areas we may look at fibre in those areas but at the moment we have enough capacity on those rural sites to service those customers.”

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