Three UK launched its 5G service in London earlier today, promptly causing EE to file a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claiming that its slogan, “If it’s not Three, it’s not real 5G”, is misleading. EE is seeking a ban on the ads because they clearly imply that alternative networks’ 5G are inferior by comparison.
The ASA will now investigate whether the adverts, which appeared in newspapers and on social media, are in breach of the advertising code.
Due to the fact that Three has more than twice as much 5G spectrum as its closest competitor, the company is claiming that it will be the fastest in the UK, delivering significantly faster speeds for its customers.
Three holds spectrum in the 140MHz block, including access to a 100MHz contiguous black that can potential provide faster 5G speeds. Other operators hold 40MHz and 50MHz blocks.
Three boasts that it is the only operator that can offer a “true” 5G experience, as set out by the global standards body on 5G technology, the ITU. This requires 80-100 MHz of contiguous spectrum in prime 5G mid-bands (eg 3.5 GHz).
EE isn’t the only operator to take issue with Three. O2 last week moaned to Ofcom about its plans to defragment 5G spectrum in the 3.4-3.8GHz band, which it claims “is currently the most important range of frequencies for the launch and development of 5G mobile services” and puts Three at an unfair advantage.
“Unfortunately, Ofcom’s policies to date have favoured one operator, [Three UK], allowing it to establish a ‘kingmaker’ position, from which it can attempt to extract windfall gains from rivals in return for moving its spectrum, or otherwise expect anti-competitive rents from blocking rivals from acquiring larger contiguous blocks,” O2 said.
In a statement, Ofcom has said that it’s “releasing more airwaves to support the roll-out of 5G.
“We’ve also proposed new measures to make it easier for mobile companies to bring together their different blocks of spectrum, to help provide a better 5G service for customers,”
“We are considering all responses to our consultation before making our final decisions later this year.”
Three UK plans to roll out both mobile and home broadband offerings in 25 towns and cities across the UK “before the end of the year”.
The locations to be switched-on in the first batch are Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland and Wolverhampton.
As well as spectrum, Three has been investing in high-capacity smart antennas, in order meet the anticipated future demand for data.