Three UK planning fixed-wireless broadband service in wake of UK Broadband acquisition?

2 May 2017

British mobile network operator (MNO) Three UK is said to be developing plans to roll out ultrafast wireless broadband in a number of cities with a view to convincing subscribers to abandon fixed broadband connections. According to The Daily Telegraph, which cites unnamed ‘senior sources’, the cellco is aiming to cover around 40% of the British population with a new fixed-wireless offering within three years. It is understood that this new service will utilise the spectrum that Three gains as part of its ongoing acquisition of UK Broadband (UKB), which offers wireless broadband services in London under the Relish banner; announced in February this year, the transaction is expected to close later this year.

While the UKB deal had initially been viewed as a means for Three to increase the capacity on its mobile network, it has now been suggested that it will instead help underpin the cellco’s plan to claim a leading position in the delivery of fixed-wireless broadband connections. According to the broadsheet’s sources, Three is planning to use its existing mobile masts in major cities to provide signals on the frequencies held by UKB, with its fixed-wireless broadband services expected to be provided under the Three brand, rather than a new name. With customers to be provided with a special wireless router to connect homes at high speeds, they will reportedly be encouraged to buy all-in-one connectivity packages that cover them inside and outside the home. Meanwhile, the scale and speed of Three’s rollout is said to depend on the outcome of the upcoming auction being conducted by regulator Ofcom for lower-band spectrum.