The UK’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers got its name from being the first to launch a 3G network in the country. When it came to 4G, many reports found that Three often fell behind rivals in speed and availability.
With the rollout of 5G now fully underway, Three is making a serious effort to secure its leadership.
Three UK customers saw average 5G download speeds 75.1 Mbps higher than second-placed EE:
While not quite as large a lead, Three also beat its rivals in 5G availability and reach:
Global 5G standards body the ITU states 5G must be able to harness 100MHz of spectrum—which all operators aside from Vodafone (with 90MHz) achieve, as of the latest auction. The GSMA, however, says that each operator should have at least 80-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum.
Three is the only UK operator to have 100 MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum holdings.
National advertising rules in the UK require claims of superiority over a competitor to be backed with clear evidence. Three has offered some theoretical explanation for its claims but no clear real-world evidence.
UK telecoms regulator Ofcom informed ASA that “while all other things being equal Three might be able to offer higher peak speeds than other operators, they would be achievable only in certain ideal conditions and would rarely be experienced by consumers everywhere in a mature 5G network.”
OpenSignal’s report arguably provides Three with some real-world evidence to back its 5G superiority claims.
However, when it comes to overall experience – factoring in 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G networks – EE remains in the lead across all “experience” tests: video, games, voice app, download speed, and upload speed.
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