Mobile operator Three have announced that they’re purchasing UK Broadband, the company behind the Relish service in Central London.
The multi-million pound deal will also include other public sector LTE networks in Swindon and Reading, as well as the firm’s 15,000 customers – according to a statement. Despite being best known for operating in the capital, in 2015 UK Broadband was awarded government funding to improve superfast connections in South West England.
The purchase is expected to help Three grow its spectrum capacity, and will also provide a useful launching pad for 5G services in the future. You can read more about how Relish works here.
Three will pay out £250 million for UK Broadband, with an additional £50 million being made available as credit towards a mobile virtual network agreement. The company say the transaction is expected to “complete mid-year”.
Chief Executive of Three UK Dave Dyson said: “UK Broadband gives us an opportunity to expand our ambition to provide high quality and great value Internet connectivity for UK consumers.”
Many view this move as Three’s first venture into the broadband and public sector market. Kester Mann, principle analyst, operators at CCS Insight, said: “Although Three will acquire new spectrum, the acquired band is not compatible with most of today’s mobile devices, meaning that it cannot be put to immediate use.”
He added: “It is likely to be a key band for 5G services, which will launch in the UK from 2020. Therefore, today’s deal does little to address its immediate concerns.”
Mann insisted that Three “remains in a precarious position as a mobile-only provider in a market evolving to multi-play services”.
He continued: “It does not have the share of spectrum or scale of operation to challenge bigger rivals such as BT and Vodafone. UK Broadband has a tiny customer base of just 15,000, a fraction of the more-than-20m it would have gained had its bid to acquire O2 been successful last year.”