Mobile network Three today said it will invest more than £2bn in 5G as operators race to be the first to roll out the new technology.
Three said its investment in infrastructure puts it in a strong position for the launch of commercial 5G, which it hopes to bring to customers in the second half of next year.
As part of its upgrade, the mobile operator has acquired the UK’s largest 5G spectrum portfolio and new 5G radio equipment.
Three has also built a high-capacity dark-fibre network to link together 20 data centres supporting the volumes of data it expects will be transferred via 5G.
The technology is expected to bring much faster speeds and greater capacity for businesses and consumers as demand for mobile data grows.
Ofcom estimates that by 2025 mobile data traffic could be between 12 and 47 times greater than 2014 levels.
Three chief executive Dave Dyson said: “This is a major investment into the UK’s digital infrastructure. UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for data and 5G unlocks significant capability to meet that demand.
“We have been planning our approach to 5G for many years and we are well positioned to lead on this next generation of technology. These investments are the latest in a series of important building blocks to deliver the best end to end data experience for our customers.”
The news comes as EE begins nine 5G trials in east London today.
Businesses and households in Provost Street, City Road, Central Street, Old Street, Cheapside, St Paul’s, Finsbury Circus Garden, Clerkenwell Street and Bartholomew Square can use EE's 5G trial instead of their regular broadband under the trials.
EE, which is also trialling 5G in Canary Wharf, aims to bring the technology to the UK's busiest cities in 2019.
Vodafone has also begun trials in seven cities across the UK.
A government review into long-term telecommunication strategy published in July outlined the changes needed to enable full access to 5G, including legislation that will guarantee full fibre connection in new-build developments.
A £50m multi-city 5G trial backed by the government is also underway in the West Midlands, where some hospital appointments could be carried out remotely via video link, while CCTV footage could be livestreamed to prevent antisocial behaviour.