Despite previously claiming that its 5G service would be more widely available by the end of the year, Three 5G has now been pushed back to 2020.
The operator, which launched Fixed Wireless Access services on 5G in central London earlier this August, had planned to offer mobile 5G in 25 towns and cities before the end of 2019. And this delay makes Three the only major UK networks to have 5G availability at such a small scale.
“Rather than launch with a small number of sites this year, as other operators have done, we will launch with a substantial footprint in 2020,” a Three spokesperson said. “As a lot of the technology that will exploit the benefits of 5G, including 5G-enabled smartphones, are currently limited in availability, there is no demand that requires an immediate launch.”
Could Huawei be the problem?
Three is believed to be in negotiations with Huawei over the network’s installation and infrastructure. However, the operator stated that negotiations are “commercially sensitive”. This could be what is pushing back Three’s launch, despite the reported reasoning behind the decision.
The current scenario with Huawei is well-known, with accusations of sharing customer’s private information with the Chinese state coming from the U.S. And with a number of countries now banning Chinese tech suppliers from providing 5G equipment, this could have been a factor in Three’s decision.
And with 5G still being such as nascent technology, a slight delay shouldn’t push Three too far behind its competitors. However, if delays go too far in to 2020, Three’s customers could start looking elsewhere, toward more established 5G networks.
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