Mobile operator Three today announced that it will rely on Virgin Media Business to upgrade its mobile network so that it is fit for 4G delivery.

The five-year, multi-million pound deal will see Three’s network linked up to Virgin Media Businesses’ nationwide fibre optic network.

Virgin Media Business said the new service will provide better connections between Three’s 15 aggregation sites and three core data centres across the UK.

As more people switch to LTE phones, mobile operators are having to upgrade their networks so they're able to handle more capacity. 

The new fibre optic service will boost Three’s network by 300Gb capacity, according to Virgin Media Business. 

Bryn Jones, chief technical officer at Three, said: “Being able to browse the internet and stream videos instantly without buffering has become a minimum requirement for many customers when deciding on their provider.

“With the new high-capacity backhaul network from Virgin Media Business we are ready to welcome even more people to the Three family. Regardless of where they are, now all of our customers will receive the best possible experiences when using 4G.”

Catherine Haslam, senior analyst of wholesale at Ovum, said fibre optic networks such as the one offered by Virgin Media Business can "help operators avoid the possibility of bottlenecks appearing in the fixed side of the network that could negate the increased performance of LTE over the air interface.”

Three, the last of the big four mobile operators in the UK to offer 4G services, began rolling out the higher speed network in December in London, Birmingham and Manchester. 

Three announced yesterday that it was planning to share network infrasctructure with rivals EE. Three and T-Mobile  one half of the EE joint venture  already share some network infrastructure, but the new deal has been signed in the hope that it will allow them both to boost 4G coverage and cut costs further. 

An EE spokesperson said: “The new framework increases cost efficiencies as we continue our rollout of 4G to the next 20 percent of the UK population in rural areas, covering more than 90 percent by the end of the year. This is part of our £1.5 billion, three-year investment to significantly differentiate the EE network in terms of the people we connect and the experience they receive.”