Three UK: on track to boost 5G backhaul

Major UK telecoms and internet service provider

Three UK was looking to expand its fibre optic backhaul capacity at existing and future locations. The key objective was to help fuel Three's deployment of gigabit-capable 5G mobile that shifted into top gear from February 2020. Three wanted to help accelerate 5G rollout by acquiring new fibre optic lines to power its ultrafast sites at a time when all mobile provider and MNOs are locked in the race for 5G dominance. Three also needed to free up congested areas in both condensed urban hotspots and rural areas. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

We’re building the high capacity fibre backbone that will link mobile phone masts and cell sites across the country and power the UK’s 5G future. With a powerful network and skilled engineers already in place, our infrastructure will help mobile operators to roll out their 5G network at scale. Virgin Media Business is fast be-coming the backhaul bastion for 5G rollout

Diego Tedesco, Director of Fixed Wholesale at Virgin Media O2 Business

 
 
 
 

Accelerating the roll out of 5G

Virgin Media Business Wholesale’s established 18-year relationship with Three, our deep experience installing Dark Fibre and ability to offer a flexible, sales-type lease immediately ticked key customer boxes. Plus, our track record handling the backhaul and aggregation of around 40% of the UK’s voice and mobile data traffic – including providing similar new 5G capacity for Vodafone – meant we were a perfect fit to take on the project.

A £131 million contract for RAN cell sites plus a £30 million deal for on-going street works was signed in April 2020.

 
 
 
 

Building firm foundations  

From the early planning stages, we worked closely with Three to draw up comprehensive network diagrams and full service availability outputs that supported our customer’s location selection.

By adjusting street works to be within five miles of our network, we were then able to translate the efficiencies into price savings. This close collaborationsaw some 3000 RAN sites and 621 street work sites on order by the end of September 2020.

Leveraging existing connectivity via the MBNL project and our well-established processes have meant we’ve been able to
deliver Three’s 5G expansion programme at speed. And by working with network services, infrastructure and cell site partners including WHP, GBC and NetEx, our Dark Fibre offer brings both technical and commercial advantages that give us the edge on BT’s solution.

 
 

Looking to the future

Virgin Media Business Wholesale’s ongoing work extending Three’s 5G capabilities in line with its ambitions has already opened up conversations around new opportunities to meet its core and small cell needs.                     

Adding to the wider picture, it’s further strengthening the high capacity fibre backbone that will link mobile phone masts across the country and power the UK’s 5G future.

With a powerful network and skilled engineers already in place, our infrastructure will continue to help mobile operators roll out their 5G networks at scale.

 
 

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