back to article 4G slowcoach Three plans network and IT overhaul to get foot in the door with 5G

Hutchison's Three UK has detailed an ambitious network and IT overhaul as it paves the ground for 5G. After being a laggard with 4G, the UK operation sees 5G as a chance to grow by jumping the competition with efficiency gains from infrastructure updates. Three has virtualized both its IT operations and its RAN and core …

  1. bsdnazz

    G5's higher RF frequencies

    mean they need more power, have shorter range, penetrate walls less well and we'll need more base stations.

    Or a breakthrough in aerial design and battery technology.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: G5's higher RF frequencies

      Stop spreading FUD.

      The mmwave stuff is an optional extra, not a strict requirement.

      "Initial 5G launches in the sub-6 GHz band will not diverge architecturally from existing LTE 4G infrastructure. Leading network equipment suppliers are Nokia,[23] Huawei,[27] and Ericsson.[28]"

      If you're close enough to get mmwave, you'll get greater speed. But 5G will also do you better than 3G/4G out in the field from the same transmitter that did those for you, on the same frequencies as those use.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But... what will it cost?

    To cut the cord with a landline or cable and go all in with wireless?

    What will the cost be then? How many times the landline cost will it be for a decent chunk of bandwidth?

    Can we get a router (or other device) to plug into our existing home networks or will we have to 5g enable all the devices we have at home? IMHO, that is a non-starter.

    These are loft proposals from '3' but we are a long way off it happening.

    At the moment, I'm lucky to get any 4G signal at home. I have to be upstairs in the back bedroom and standing right by the window and then I might get 2 bars of 4G service. That sort of thing is a real problem that needs addressing before 5G can be rolled out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But... what will it cost?

      Plenty of people already do this. Certainly not the type likely to read el reg, but in the wider population it is increasingly common to just rely on your phone's connection for near-enough everything. Assuming you can get signal coverage, there's no reason it can't follow a similar trend to what we've seen with landline phones.

      If (and you're right, it's a big if) the mobile network operators can start shifting high speed, reliable 5G home routers and start packaging them alongside your mobile plan (a plan you're going to be buying regardless), for most people and for most purposes there's really no material difference versus a wired connection.

      The big challenge isn't really technical, it's just the fact that plenty of people get their internet for "free" with their TV package, but likewise we're not that far from a world where cutting the cord is more common than forking out £60 a month to Sky or BT or VM.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: But... what will it cost?

      I do this.

      I have no landline (telephone or broadband), cable, TV, etc.

      I live in London. It's cheaper to buy a 4G box (I use a mini Huawei 4G Wifi router that runs off a mobile phone battery, is based on Android and is basically a mobile hotspot with 8 hours of battery life, so I use the same connection when out-and-about, on holiday and when at home for my broadband) than it is to get even an ADSL line installed.

      I get more than adequate speed to do all my TV through it (TVPlayer/Netflix/Amazon Prime/iPlayer, etc.). I get more than adequate speed to do all my browsing through it. It get more than adequate latency to play online games through it.

      Literally, the only blocker for me is their pathetically low data plans. The best you can get in the UK if you're tethering (they cut you off for such things, if you think you just can use your "unlimited" mobile phone data package) is about 50Gb a month. I'm on 40Gb and they don't count Netflix (which is another 30Gb for me). It's more than adequate for me, and I'm online all day long. I have my CCTV on it, I have my phone on it (phone uses it over Wifi, which may seem odd but then I can even out my data usage), and my entire local network runs off it (including CCTV, printers, games consoles, RPi, DVB-T streamer, Chromecast, etc.).

      I do *not* get an amazing signal (I bought a little aerial to plug it into when I'm at home), but it's already viable on 4G and held back ONLY by the stupidly low data limit which as far as I'm concerned is entirely artificial. 40Gb is fine for me but if I had more people in the house I would have to bump it. And weirdly it would be cheaper to buy several 4G routers and SIMs on Three than to pay their data over-charge (my Huawei has an option to piggyback off another Wifi in preference, so you just make a chain of them and turn one off when the data runs out...). I set the SIM to not allow overuse so if I over-use it, it just stops until the next month rather than charges me.

      Also works in Europe when I go over there, so I'm not using up anyone else's data.

      I have it on Pay Monthly but on an annual contract you can get it down to £22 a month. Cheaper than literally EVERY broadband offering available to me, once you include line rental. Also I get no telephone spam, because the only phones I have are mobiles and SIP.

      I would actually pay £50 a month for Three to let me use, say, 100-150Gb of data on that same 4G SIM. I wouldn't care if it was 4G or 5G, to be honest. I get more than enough speed to cope with everything I throw at it (including 1000 Steam games and their constant updates).

      The only alternative is Vodafone (who charge £30 a month for 50Gb, and then another £15 "pass" will remove all your Facebook, Whatsapp, Netflix, Prime Video, etc. data from counting towards your allowance). But they're too stupid to send me a SIM or realise that I can't get back in to order another with the same details because the first never arrived, and I can't be arsed to argue in a shop with a digital telecoms / Internet company who can't work how to get me to order a SIM online).

      All the other I look at have LUDICROUS limits when tethered / mobile broadband. The average is about 9Gb a month. But a Three Mobile Broadband Sim-Only 40Gb w/ Netflix traffic built in can be had for £22 a month, and I get 30Mbps and more out of it all the time.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: But... what will it cost?

        >Literally, the only blocker for me is their pathetically low data plans.

        Depending on network availability in your area probably a time to switch or talk to Three and threaten to switch; EE is now offering various data only packages including 200GB for £50 pm and 500GB for £100 pm (both 1-month contracts).

        Aside: I maintain/use both Three and EE data plans mainly because I still find areas where one or other is delivering better service, but it has been a long time since I've been in an area where neither provides a 'usable' service.

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: But... what will it cost?

          I pay-per-month. So that's a £100 up-front cost, for a device I'll literally never use, then £50+ a month, for lower speeds, with dodgy traffic and being backed by BT (who are the very reason I can't get decent local broadband in the first place).

          For 100Gb on that, I'd have to pay £100 + 12 x £45 = £640 a year, which is £53.33 a month, or sign up for 18-months (which I can do with Three but deliberately avoid doing even though I'd save).

          It's an option, sure, but it's not one I'd choose, and it's still just-as-cheap to buy two SIMs from Three instead, and kit of my choice, and use them in tandem. Or just buy a smaller data SIM from each and then use EE when Three falls over, etc.

  3. simpfeld

    Replace Home Broadband Unlikely

    We hear this with every new technology from the mobile operators. We heard it with 3G, 4G and now 5G. I remember those 4G adverts about streaming movies to your phone, which you'd be insane to do on most data plans.

    All of these (3G, 4G) were fast when few used them, now many are on them they can be pretty slow. When using 4G in central London it can be really painful with all those mobile devices in a small area.

    Fundamentally Wireless is a shared medium, and cables aren't. 5G even with directional signalling just isn't going to compete with FTTP (which should *hopefully* be making progress by 5G launch/popularity). By this time mobile data requirements will have gone up plus video will be moving to 4K in houses. Do we really want to have all these homes using 4K and slowing our mobile experience down. No thanks.

    They aren't actually competing technologies. The mantra I used to hear:

    Wired when you can, wireless when you have to.

    Still seems to hold true, use the correct one for the job. I'm always amused by people using WiFi to a TV right next to a router. Just run a cable for the TV and leave all that WiFi bandwidth for devices that actually need it phones, tablets, laptops etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Replace Home Broadband Unlikely

      "I remember those 4G adverts about streaming movies to your phone, which you'd be insane to do on most data plans."

      Three don't even count Netflix as part of your data plan.

      1. Ragarath

        Re: Replace Home Broadband Unlikely


        Three may not, but they should not be the gatekeepers. If I wanted to use another service I should be able to. I pay Three (substitute any network here) for the connection, not the content. This type of behaviour is IMO anti-competitive / monopolist (IANAL don't quote me) and should not be offered free unless they do the same for every other streaming service.

    2. Spazturtle Silver badge

      Re: Replace Home Broadband Unlikely

      "We hear this with every new technology from the mobile operators. We heard it with 3G, 4G and now 5G."

      It never pans out because nobody builds their network to support it, for 4G broadband you want to use 400Mhz LTE but none of the networks support that.

  4. DarkLordofSurrey

    " as it was the last of the four MNOs to introduce LTE, charging a premium "didn't feel right". "

    My arse, throwing everyone off your most popular tariff ( One Plan ) and doubling the price for a lesser one seems like charging a premium...

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