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Hutchison 3 UMTS Network, United Kingdom

Key Data

Hutchison 3G UK, a new entrant to the UK wireless telephony market owns paired 15MHz and unpaired 5MHz bands of spectrum in the UK. The spectrum represents the largest block in the UK and has a 20-year license period. Hutchison acquired the license for £4.38 billion through the UK government's UMTS license auction in April 2000. The network, operated under the brand name '3' had its soft launch in March 2003. However, at that point in time, no handsets were made available, but users could register for subscriptions with handset availability announced for mid-March 2003. Hutchison 3G UK Ltd. is owned by Hutchison Whampoa (65%), NTT DoCoMo (20%) and Dutch KPN (15%).


Hutchison has launched its UK 3G network under the brand name '3'. The core network contract has been awarded to Nokia including 3G packet core elements and 3G mobile switches. The contract with Nokia provides for the supply of mobile core infrastructure (packet as well as circuit-switched elements), radio access network equipment and support services. Furthermore, the company will provide its mPlatform mobile Internet middleware. The systems include integrated end-to-end solutions such as charging, security, network management and service control applications.

Nokia and NEC will share the radio access network contract, including the supply of Base Station Controllers (BSC) and Base Stations (BS) for an initial period of three years. The contract is split geographically, with Nokia in the UK's South as well as Northern Ireland and NEC in the North. Nokia will install BS from its Optima Compact and Supreme product ranges.

Bureau Veritas has been awarded a contract to supply radio emissions testing services for Hutchison 3G's BS throughout the UK. The company assesses whether the BS are operating in accordance with ICNIRP (International Commission for Non Ionising Radiation Protection) public exposure guidelines.


Hutchison has also announced an agreement with 186k to provide a nationwide fibre optic network and co-location services. The 20-year agreement gives Hutchison access to 'dark fibre' capacity across the 186k network, spanning around 2,000 km across the UK and connecting 20 urban areas that are likely to show the heaviest nationwide traffic levels.

Furthermore, Hutchison has entered into an agreement with Nortel Networks to supply 10Gb/sec/channel Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) optical equipment to light the fibre optic network and connect to Hutchison's wireless network. The order includes NN OPTera Long Haul 1600 Optical Line System, scaleable to 1.6Tb per second per fibre as well as Nortel Networks Preside* network management system.


In addition to these facilities Hutchison 3G has agreed to share network facilities owned by UK operator mmO2 to ensure rapid time to market even before its own network is complete, with customers roaming between Hutchison's limited 3G network and mmO2's existing second generation network. Hutchison's right to let customers roam with at least one existing competitor's 2G network is part of the 3G license and enforceable by law.


Hutchison UK has chosen ADC's Single View Convergent Billing System to administer its entire billing operations. The complexity arises as more services are made available to users and the billing/transaction system integrates voice, data, e-mail, multimedia and information service charges. In addition to that, the billing system has to support multiple reporting necessities to allow for billing and transaction management between third party application and content providers, advertisers and other organisations.


In July 2001 the Hutchison Whampoa Group and Motorola, Inc. announced an agreement to supply wireless devices for a total contract value exceeding $700 million. The devices seamlessly handover between Global Systems for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications Service (UMTS) wireless networks.

In October 2001, Hutchison Whampoa ordered 1 million NEC handsets for its 3G operations worldwide and extended its order in November 2001 to 2 million. The NEC devices e606 and e808 delivered to Hutchison are dual-mode (2G: GSM/CSD, 3G: UMTS/WCDMA) and offer built-in cameras (and digital zoom), 65,536-colour screens with memory of up to 64MB as well as built-in Java functions. A QWERTY keyboard features with the NEC e808. The handsets support Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging (MMS) as well as downloading at speeds of up to 385kbps. Both devices offer USB connectivity.


The network operator is Hutchison 3G UK Ltd. Nokia is 3G core network supplier and radio-access network supplier together with NEC Corporation. The first preferred wireless device suppliers at the time of the soft launch were NEC Corporation and Motorola, Inc. Hutchison has chosen 186k's optical network to carry wireline traffic. Nortel Networks has been awarded a contract to supply DWDM optical equipment to light the network and connect to Hutchison's wireless infrastructure. Bureau Veritas undertakes radio emissions testing of Hutchison's 3G base stations.

On the service side, Hutchison 3G has entered into agreements with Ordnance Survey and Tele Atlas to provide mapping and guidance data and whereonearth, IONIC Software and TCS for location-based data technology. Partnerships have been formed with FA Premier League, media company Emap plc and various games developers to provide entertainment services on the 3 network.