BARCELONA: Mobile operator Three has told V3.co.uk that it will carry out a "significant enhancement" to its network during 2011 in an effort to provide better speeds and coverage consistency.
Matt Halfin, marketing manager and head of mobile broadband propositions at Three, said that upgrading the network will meet growing demand for mobile data.
"It's important for us to give customers the kind of experience they expect in terms of speed and consistency of coverage across all kinds of geographical regions," he said.
"Whether that's LTE or HSPA+ we will work continuously to upgrade the network during 2011 to roll out quite significant enhancements that should have a material impact."
Halfin was unable to confirm the technology that will be used, but said that the step is necessary as the operator expects smartphone use on its network to grow massively in the coming months.
"Mobile data is a massive growth area, whether on handsets, tablets or other connected devices. We are projecting that 70 to 80 per cent of sales will be for smartphones by the end of the year," he said.
"As more people discover what's possible with these sorts of devices, it's only going in one direction, and we think that, with our mobile broadband share at 45 per cent of the market, we are in a strong position."
Halfin also said that Three is "very interested" in bidding for new spectrum freed up as a result of switch from analogue to digital TV in auctions to take place in 2012, which will allow operators to deliver LTE services.
Three boasts of being able to offer speeds of around 5.6Mbit/s, but this could increase to 14.4Mbit/s and beyond with HSPA+ technology.
Forrester analyst Ian Fogg told V3.co.uk that Three could be upgrading to HSPA+ as this would not require a major effort, but questioned whether it would have a noticeable impact for users.
"Moving to HSPA+ is very much an evolutionary step that doesn't require too much work. Some infrastructure has to be upgraded and smartphones need to be able to run the technology, but that's about it," he said.
"However, while you'll get better speeds if the network is quiet and you have good coverage, if you're in a busy area where the network is crowded it is unlikely there would be a huge improvement in average speeds."
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