The way the UK telecoms networks stepped up to support applications such as video during the pandemic would not have been possible even five years ago, said CEO of Three UK & Ireland, Robert Finnegan.
Speaking in a blog, he revealed that Covid-19 opened people’s eyes to the reality that telecoms are critical infrastructure, and the importance of being able to communicate during a crisis cannot be underestimated. The operator saw a 30% increase in data traffic and a 15-20% increase in voice traffic, and had to put network freezes in place to ensure stability.
“It’s fair to say that taking on a new role as the CEO of Three UK, in addition to my role at Three Ireland, just as the nationwide lockdowns were implemented in both countries was something of a rude awakening. It’s true also that in tough times you get to see the real measure of people, and of a business," he remarked. "There is clearly never a good time for a pandemic and this one has taken a grim toll on the people and the economy. At Three, our mission is to provide better conectivity every day, for every customer, and this year has been no different; in fact, it has been more important than ever...Five years ago, I don’t think telephone networks would have been ready for this huge uptick in traffic and demand for connectivity, particularly with the need, human and financial, for FaceTiming loved ones and video-conferencing colleagues."
Earlier this month, Three UK announced the continued development of its next-generation communications infrastructure, making 5G available for customers in Manchester, Glasgow and Reading and taking its 5G coverage to 154 towns and cities served from over 800 sites. Finnegan predicts that 5G is really set to take off in 2021.
Finnegan noted that a major focus for the company in 2020, and something it will continue to prioritise moving forward, is the rollout of 5G and improving existing network. He added that in this regard, the company was on a par with competitors in this respect and, according to mobile speed test company Ookla, owned the UK’s fastest 5G network.
"Three UK has been a predominantly strong consumer brand...and we have continued to offer market-leading tariffs and, as a result, we actually saw our customer base increase by 214,000, compared to a 59,000 increase in the same period last year (Q3 2019); nearly a four-fold jump," he wrote. "We will continue to enhance our offering and in-store experience to adapt to changing consumer behaviour. We’ll ensure our offers remain attractive and different, and not just better value. We have an opportunity here, and we want to make the most of our platform to develop innovative ideas.”