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Three UK reveals ‘encouraging’ signs despite Covid-19 impact in latest figures

Saf Malik
March 19, 2021

The network has made progress with its 5G rollout despite uncertainty

Three UK’s latest figures offer an ‘encouraging’ forecast despite the impact of Covid-19 on the economy.

The operator notes that while 2020 was a year dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic with revenues down by 1 per cent and EBITDA declining by 22 per cent, there was a 3 per cent growth in revenue and a 28 per cent growth in underlying EBITDA in the second half of the year.

There was a boost in Three’s contract net adds which record a 71 per cent increase for Q4 YOY and a 72 per cent increase for H2 YOY.

The company announced that its margin had remained flat YOY and this was an area that was already under pressure as a result of regulatory impacts, with Covid-19 compounding that pressure around core contract, prepay, roaming, and add-ons usage.

Despite the challenging conditions, Active Contract Churn has improved in the past year by 0.1 per cent. The company has 11.2 million active network connections with 9.7 million Three branded connections, with the contract base growing by 5 per cent in 2020.

The company says it has performed very strongly in Q3 and Q4 contract net adds, outperforming the MNO market by 50 per cent for both quarters; with ARPU movement again ahead of the market.

Investments for the future

Three UK’s capital expenditure for the year was at £764m which represented an increase of 79 per cent which has mostly been spent on improving its 4G and 5G infrastructure.

This is also reflected by the company’s decision to switch from Huawei to Ericsson 5G technology after UK mobile providers were told they must remove all of the Chinese vendor’s technology from their networks by 2027.

Three UK has made progress on the 5G front despite this uncertainty. The operator launched 5G on mobile in February in 68 locations and has extended this to 154 towns and cities across 1000 sites for mobile and home broadband.

Post-year end, Three has extended its 5G network to 193 locations across 1250 sites with 380 more fully built, but not yet live.

The network says its investments in improving its 4G and 5G networks and IT systems are major investments for the future. Three’s 700MHz allocation at the recent Ofcom spectrum auction is set to improve the network experience even further with homes in rural areas particularly benefitting.

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