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Three UK invests £2bn in 5G as it prepares for 2019 rollout

Three UK has revealed plans to invest £2bn in rolling out its 5G mobile network as it seeks to expand its share of the British carrier market.

The network provider said it had already “completed a number of key steps” in delivering the network, having acquired new cell site technology and acquired a major portion of the UK’s 5G spectrum.

Speaking to NS Tech on Wednesday, Three CEO Dave Dyson said the primary business case for the investment was around increasing the network’s data capacity per customer.

“5G allows us to continue to grow as a business both in terms of bringing more customers onboard and allowing our customers to use more data, which is quite a strong foundation for investing in 5G technology,” he said.

Three is aiming to roll out 5G services in the second half of 2019, starting with smartphone connections and home broadband services. One of the company’s first 5G zones will be in central London, where one of its acquisitions already operates a mobile network.

It emerged on Wednesday that the UK government has written to British telecoms providers, warning them to think carefully about who they chose as suppliers for their 5G network. The letter did not mention Huawei, but was considered by industry to be written in reference to the Chinese telecoms provider.

Three is one of the UK firms to have contracted the company to supply key parts of its network. NS Tech understands the deal is worth several hundred million pounds, and as such represents a significant proportion of its 5G investment.

Dyson the company had already invested “quite a lot of money in the spectrum, in the equipment and the rollout. If the government did something to slow down the adoption of 5G, that would be unwelcome”.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.