Three and EE dispute advert claim as 5G competition escalates

Three and EE dispute advert claim as 5G competition escalates

UK telecom operator EE has filed a complaint against rival company Three, over its 5G advertising campaign claiming “If it’s not Three, it’s not real 5G,” according to The Guardian.

The dispute comes after Three switched on a portion of its 5G network in London, and as more UK telecom companies begin to compete over the next generation networks. 

EE has brought the issue to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), seeking a ban against the claim, which they say is misleading. The watchdog is now set to investigate whether the ad, which ran in newspapers and on social media, is in violation of the advertising code. 

Three does control more of the 5G spectrum than rival telecoms, allowing faster downloads and other benefits. It gained nearly three times as much of the spectrum as any of its rivals, including a contiguous 100MHz block, following a purchase of UK Broadband for £250 million. Controlling a contiguous stretch of the spectrum allows Three to boost its capacity and operate more cost effectively. Rivals have argued that the move has given the company an unfair advantage. 

Three is the third operator to launch a 5G network. However, unlike EE and Vodafone which are providing 5G services for mobile devices, Three is only offering Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband for homes in parts of central London. By connecting to a mobile signal, users don’t need a landline rental.

“No more paying for landline rental, no more waiting for engineers,” according to Three UK chief Dave Dyson. “Home broadband using 5G is going to be key to the future of the connected home.”

Later this year, it will expand its home broadband offering, and provide a 5G network for mobile users, in 25 UK cities. O2 is set to launch its own 5G network in October as the last major operator to do so. 

EE launched the nation’s first 5G network earlier this year. A spokesman from the company said:

“Three’s claim to be the only real 5G network is entirely false, and deliberately aimed at misleading consumers. Our customers have been using real 5G since we launched the UK’s first 5G network, back in May.”

But Dyson argued, in an interview with TechRadar Pro:

“If you look at International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standards, they say to get a genuine 5G experience you need a minimum of 100MHz spectrum. Of course EE and Vodafone have launched but the reality is that, whether 100MHz is the standard or not, our 5G service uses double the spectrum and in practice that means double the capacity.”

Photo by Isto2 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]