Three UK and SSE announce 5G fibre testbed on London’s Oxford Street

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The UK's smallest mobile operator and SSE Enterprise Telecoms are launching a 5G fibre testbed in Europe’s busiest shopping district, Oxford Street in London.

The partners say they will roll out “the UK’s fastest 5G network” in this area of the UK capital, which sees tens of millions of visitors every month.

The project will allow Three UK to add extra capacity to its 4G and 5G networks to offer customers in the proximity a faster, more reliable experience

Fibre infrastructure

Infrastructure provider SSE Enterprise Telecoms delivers connectivity services to businesses through its private UK-wide telecoms network. SSE Enterprise Telecom’s ‘Edge 3’ programme will see the company unbundle 177 BT exchanges by 2020, allowing SSE Enterprise Telecoms to deploy its own technology on BT’s infrastructure and add over 180,000 UK business postcodes to its network reach.

This underpins Three UK’s 4G enhancement, and 5G home broadband and mobile ambitions, the partners said.

Dave Dyson, CEO, Three UK, commented, “Fibre is an essential component of any 5G network. Three UK is bringing the UK’s fastest 5G network to 25 towns and cities by the end of this year, as well as significantly enhancing its 4G network over the next few years.

"SSE Enterprise Telecoms is a vital partner which is using innovative ways to stimulate much-needed competition in the fibre backhaul market which will give customers the best experience for both mobile and home broadband services”.

Initial rollout

Three UK will launch its first 5G sites offering home broadband this August in London, and extend to 25 other UK towns and cities before the end of the year.  Initially the rollout will be supported by an SSE Enterprise Telecoms project: its fibre network runs through London’s Thames Water waste water network to enhance densification in a key metro area.

Anticipating where 5G demand would surge, SSE Enterprise Telecoms sought new, faster ways to deploy a fibre network in a key locations than traditional digs. SSE Enterprise Telecoms is also exploring new means of providing backhaul to mobile network operators.

Creative connectivity

Sarah Mills, Sector Director for Network Operators, SSE Enterprise Telecoms, said, “Ofcom data shows UK data usage is set to grow 13-fold between 2017 and 2025, this will be concentrated in metro city hotspots.

"Our high-capacity fibre ring in central London will link to Three UK’s cell sites using London’s water waste network. This innovative, secure and robust fibre installation is necessary to provide greater resiliency, increased capacity and reduced latency.

“Three UK is already utilising our unique and diverse backhaul connectivity, and we’re in a strong position to trial their 5G offering in one of Europe’s busiest areas, as well as enhancing existing services for their customers. However, our creative approach to networking won’t stop there, as we continue to bring further network innovation to the market over the coming months.”