Three adds 4,900 sites to the UK’s biggest 3G network to fuel smartphone and dongle boom.
Mobile operator Three UK marked the completion of its massive three-year long network upgrade today as it connected its 12,400th 3G site.
The upgrade and improvement programme, which has seen Three’s 3G network grow from an already market-leading 7,500 sites to 12,400, has brought new coverage to rural areas and added crucial capacity to cities.
3G population coverage across the UK is now close to 97%. Three’s customers are able to make calls, send texts and connect to high-speed mobile broadband throughout the country from Lands End to the Shetland Islands.
The changes have improved the network across areas where 45m people live and added 50,000km² of coverage. Over the past three years an area more than twice the size of Wales has been added to what was already Britain’s biggest 3G network.
While Three’s network reach and capacity has grown, this expansion has been achieved through consolidating and upgrading equipment, and sharing sites with other providers. This has actually led to 5,069 fewer active masts across the country.
As Three approached the completion of this network upgrade, which has seen the firm invest around £400m, it has received a series of accolades, including first place in the latest YouGov DongleTracker survey*. Three has also moved up to second place in YouGov’s most recent smartphone survey, after taking top spot in upload and download speeds.
Kevin Russell, CEO of Three UK said: “Thousands of people across the country have put in a phenomenal amount of work to build the UK’s biggest Mobile Broadband network. Smartphone and Mobile Broadband use is exploding and we have built a 3G network that reaches further than ever before, as well as bringing more capacity into urban areas where our customers need it most.”
Three’s network now carries more than 100 terabytes of data a day across it – or roughly 20-times the amount of information held in Wikipedia. Of this more than 40% is made up of people streaming media from sites like BBC iPlayer and Youtube, 38% is from web browsing, including web downloads, and close to 6% is from people updating Microsoft software. In addition about 2.5% is now made up of people messaging each other, such as via Skype or MSN.
To mark the completion of the network upgrade Three launched an augmented reality app to enable retail staff to bring the changes to the network alive in Three’s 300+ stores across the UK. The Android and iPhone app uses the Layar augmented reality platform to show how dramatically the upgrade has changed Three’s network.
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