Broadband: Three switches on 5G, but takes a different approach to rivals

Mobile operator starts with a 5G-powered home broadband service, with smartphone services to come later.

As 5G arrives, let's recap some key facts about 4G Sweden was first to roll out 4G but the nation's mobile speeds have now been eclipsed by countries that import their network gear. Read more: https://zd.net/31tSlPu

Three has switched on its 5G service, but at launch is only offering a fixed broadband service for home users – unlike its rivals, who are offering the high-speed service direct to smartphone users.

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The new 5G service is available in central London, but will roll out more widely later this year. Three said that by connecting its broadband hub via 5G wireless, rather than the copper or fibre cables, which are usually used to provide broadband, customers can get 'fibre-like, ultrafast speeds' quickly with "no digging up roads or lengthy waits for an engineer to set up a landline connection either."

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The service may be attractive to those households who still have – and pay for – a landline simply because they need it to get a broadband service. While operators are switching on their 5G networks, most rollouts so far are limited in scope and only cover the busiest parts of the biggest cities. As there are very few 5G handsets on the market at the moment, the number of customers who can access these services are very limited in any case: until more handsets appear in the shops, a home broadband service may be one of the easiest ways to get access to 5G.

Three is currently rolling out its rolling 5G network, and said it will launch a mobile service and the fixed broadband service across 25 cities in the UK by the end of the year. The 25 towns that will receive 5G mobile and home broadband coverage by the end of the year are: London, Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, and Wolverhampton.

EE switched on its 5G service at the end of May, Vodafone turned its on in July. O2 is due to launch its 5G network in October.