Three UK buys UK Broadband and a bunch of spectrum for £250 million

Challenger MNO Three UK is buying UK Broadband for £250 million in an apparent bid to improve its fixed wireless offering and to grab a chunk of high-frequency spectrum.

Three is being somewhat tight-lipped about the acquisition, which would give it 15,000 business customers as well as 124MHz of spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz range, as well as fixed wireless spectrum in the 3.9GHz, 28GHz and 40GHz bands. It’s worth noting that Three and UK Broadband are both ultimately owned by Hong Kong based companies – CK Hutchison and PCCW, respectively.

“UK Broadband gives us an opportunity to expand our ambition to provide high quality and great value internet connectivity for UK consumers,” was all Three UK CEO Dave Dyson could manage on the subject.

Three UK feels hardly done by when it comes to UK spectrum ownership and wants regulators to intervene in its favour. One of the reasons it has received little sympathy for its plight to date has been the fact that much of this imbalance was a result of it being out-bid in auctions, rather than anything more sinister or underhand.

It’s therefore good to see Three put its hand in its pocket to actually buy some spectrum of its own, rather than begging regulators for freebies. This higher frequency spectrum may have limited use right now, but with the 5G era expected to make much greater use of these bands this could end up being a sound investment, provided the deal is approved. Can you imagine how hysterical Three would be if even this move got blocked?

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