MOBILE OPERATOR Three has finished its network upgrade, closing three years and 8.5 million man hours of work.
The end of the task was marked by the connection of Three's 12,400th 3G cellular site, and the firm released some statistics about what went on during the programme.
Not only did it take 8.5 million man hours, but it also involved 3,300 engineers. We aren't great at maths, but it looks like they might have put in some overtime.
In the last year, the network saw some 10,000 transmission cable and microwave upgrades, and - and this is our favourite fact of all, of the year maybe - eight engineers were attacked by birds during the rollout. And we thought it was just Microsoft that ticked off angry birds.
Three almost doubled its network over the three years, taking it from what it called a market-leading 7,500 sites to the 12,400 it has today. Importantly, for farmers and such, it has increased coverage in rural areas. And now, in total, Three reckons that its network covers over 97 per cent of the UK population.
Three managed to do this without building new masts, it added, and in fact seems to have taken the axe to quite a few. It said that by consolidating with other providers and installing on their sites, its programme had led to a decrease in its mast numbers of about 5,100.
Kevin Russell, CEO of Three UK said, "Thousands of people across the country have put in a phenomenal amount of work to build the UK's biggest Mobile Broadband network. Smartphone and Mobile Broadband use is exploding and we have built a 3G network that reaches further than ever before, as well as bringing more capacity into urban areas where our customers need it most."
What about those birds though, Kev? What about the birds? µ