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Three wins accolade for 5G availability in UK

Three shop Woolwich.jpg

CK Hutchison’s Three UK has emerged as leader for 5G availability in the country, ahead of BT’s EE, Telefónica’s O2 and Vodafone.

The first 5G availability report for the UK by Opensignal shows that Three users spent the largest proportion of their time connected to 5G when using the company’s network.

However, they spent only 6.5% of their time connected to 5G, admits Opensignal — though that was ahead of the 5.5% of the time that EE users were on 5G, with Vodafone and O2 lagging still further behind at 4.6% and 3.3% respectively.

But in terms of video experience, O2 and EE were equally placed in the lead, with Three a short way behind and Vodafone trailing.

“EE wins the 5G download speed award by clocking up speeds of 140 Mbps,” said Opensignal, a UK-based research company that uses apps on people’s phones in order to monitor speed, experience and connectivity.

Opensignal said that “5G users have the best overall experience on EE for video, download and upload speeds”.

The company noted: “The greater proportion of time that our Three users spent connected to 5G wasn’t enough to allow Three to overcome EE’s lead on 5G download speed and download speed experience.”

Opensignal notes: “Access to spectrum is vital if operators are to gain the additional capacity to offer users improved experiences alongside greater data usage in the 5G era.”  

The UK’s “latest spectrum auction allocated 80MHz in the 700MHz band — rural 5G or for 5G signals to penetrate deeply inside large buildings — and 120MHz in the 3.6-3.8GHz band. Together, this boosts the amount of spectrum available in the UK for mobile use by around 22%.”

Research for the report was conducted over a period of 90 days starting 1 December 2020 and ending 28 February 2021.