Three UK to switch on 5G in August, starting with home broadband

UK mobile phone networks stock

Mobile network Three has confirmed it will launch its 5G network in August and plans to reach 25 United Kingdom towns and cities before the end of 2019.

The home broadband service is expected to offer speeds comparable to fibre, with a "plug and play" experience.

It follows BT's EE and Vodafone in launching next generation 5G services in 2019.

Media captionBBC News puts 5G connectivity to the test on two phones, downloading a podcast.

Three CEO Dave Dyson said in a statement that it was "clear that consumers and businesses want more and more data", and that "5G is a game changer for Three, and of course I am excited that we will be the only operator in the United Kingdom who can offer true 5G".

For those of you keeping count, it means Three may well have the widest 5G coverage by the time the year is up. EE now only offers 5G in six cities, and promised a total of 16 locations will have 5G before the end of the year. EE's network is as of now live in six cities over the United Kingdom, and in its launch week, it was at that point offering average speeds of around 200 Mbps.

The technology can offer 20-times faster data speeds than 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks and better support for artificial intelligence and virtual reality with low latency. From their 5G launches, both the companies pulled Huawei smartphones after Google's Android support for Huawei smartphones became uncertain with the US moving to block the Chinese firm's access to its technology.

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The race for 5G is hotting up - even if Three is arriving with what feels like rather a lukewarm offering.

Three has become the latest British mobile operator to signal the arrival of a 5G network in the United Kingdom, with the launch slated for August this year.

However, the exact dates for the service have not been mentioned yet, but the initial 5G home broadband service will be first available to London.

This will be achieved through deploying more 4G spectrum, converting 3G spectrum to 4G and using advanced antenna technology. This is due to an ongoing dispute between the USA and China over Huawei's alleged involvement in state-sponsored espionage, a claim which the Chinese firm has always denied.

Three will be announcing more details and pricing in July.

While Three is behind its rivals, with EE's network already live and Voda's set to launch in just a few weeks time, it's boldly claiming that its "true" 5G network will deliver speeds that are "at least 2x" faster and more reliable than services offered by other mobile operators. The company hasn't gone into specific numbers, but EE claims speeds on its 5G network could exceed 1Gbps, so logically that would mean Three's could exceed 2Gbps.

Some people have questioned whether there are health risks from 5G, but experts and regulators say there is no evidence of danger.

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