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September 23, 2019updated 24 Sep 2019 11:02am

Will Three UK’s 5G strategy of plug-and-play first pay dividends?

By GlobalData Technology

Mobile operator Three UK showcased its 5G strategy during the 5G City Tour (#5GGearUp) recently.

The company launched 5G on the 19 August in London a planned rollout for 24 additional cities throughout the UK by Q4 2019.

Three UK, whose parent company is Hutchison 3G UK Limited, said it would initially focus on the ‘plug-and-play’ 5G home broadband, challenging the fixed broadband market by claiming to offer higher speeds at a relatively low cost with no waiting time for the installation.

Three UK currently offers 5G home broadband for £35 a month on a 12-month plan without the upfront cost and with optional same-day delivery. The telco is also targeting small and medium enterprises to strengthen their position in the vertical market.

To illustrate Three UK’s download speeds, the telco recorded 5G speeds at their flagship Oxford Street, London, store at 301Mbps and 14 milliseconds of latency. The company advertises its 5G as “Real 5G” due to their unique position in the UK to offer 100MHz continuous bandwidth, which is ideal for 5G services and results in higher obtainable speeds.

EE, Vodafone

It is the third operator to launch 5G in the UK, after EE and Vodafone. In contrast to Three UK, EE and Vodafone have focused on the 5G smartphone market and have already covered 6 and 15 cities respectively.

EE was the first network to launch 5G in the UK. The telco’s 5G strategy focuses on bundling the technology with value-added services (VAS). For instance, the company offers 5G on a SIM-only plan (12-month contract) with unlimited data for £44 comprising of three “swappable benefits”. The swappable benefits allow users to interchange between six VAS options.

Swappable benefits include free-roaming to certain countries, unlimited data usage for video, music, gaming and/or unlimited access to media content such as Amazon Prime Video and BT Sport, throughout their contract. Furthermore, the telco offers a wide range of 5G phones such as the OPPO Reno for £44 a month on a 24-month contract which includes 10GB of data and 2 swappable benefits.

Vodafone offers 5G at no extra cost for mobile costumers. However, the telco focuses on monetising the new technology by offering plans with varying maximum download speeds. For instance, their SIM-only 12-month contract plans with unlimited data vary in price from £23 to £30, with maximum speeds ranging from 2Mbps, to the maximum speed available (greater than 10Mbps).

The demand for 5G is robust in the UK and GlobalData forecasts technology adoption will reach over 26% by 2024, as shown in the graph below.

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