July 16, 2014

Three is expanding its 4G coverage, but the network could certainly be more transparent about it

Three 4G

Three’s 4G coverage, not as straightforward as you may think!

There are a lot of good things about 4G on Three. It’s available at no extra cost for one thing and Three’s tariffs already tend to be among the cheapest around. It’s also the only network to offer unlimited 4G data.

But when it comes to actual 4G coverage Three is a little bit behind as it was the last to launch. On top of that it’s not being as clear about its coverage and its rollout plans as the other networks. EE, O2 and Vodafone don’t count a place as covered by 4G until the majority of it genuinely gets a 4G signal.

Three on the other hand will seemingly list areas as soon as they have any coverage at all. In some cases they will genuinely have widespread coverage, as in London for example, but in others they might just have one or two towers live and only be providing a 4G signal to a very small area.

In fairness it doesn’t hide this fact, as on its coverage page it claims that it aims to reach ‘parts’ of 50 cities and many more towns by the end of 2014, with ‘parts’ being the key word. Similarly on its ‘When will I get 4G?’ page it states that it aims to roll-out its 4G network to ‘selected sites in or around’ the listed towns and cities by the end of 2014.

Unfortunately that doesn’t mean much of anything, since if you live in a town or city that’s listed it won’t do you much good if Three only activates 4G in a tiny area of it, unless you happen to live or work in that area.

It also means that the list of towns and cities that might vaguely get close to a 4G network encompasses pretty much the whole of the UK, so it makes it look Three’s rollout plans are far more ambitious than they actually are and it’s almost entirely useless if you’re actually wondering whether you’ll be getting a 4G signal from the network any time soon.

The good news is that Three aims to bring 4G to 98% of the UK population by the end of 2015. That’s a lot less vague and means that within a year and a half most of the UK should be able to get 4G through Three. But as for which towns will be getting it when, the list that Three provides isn’t much help.

If you are interested in whether you can get a 4G signal where you live then your best bet for now is to check Three’s coverage map.

That won’t tell you when places that don’t currently have 4G are likely to get it but it will give you a good idea of whether you can get it right now and it paints a fairly clear picture of Three’s 4G coverage, both indoors and outdoors, even in areas where it’s patchy, for example Cambridge, where you can currently get 4G outdoors in most areas, but indoors it’s only available in some of the outlying areas while most of the indoor parts of the city centre are 4G-free.

Find more details on Three’s coverage here.

  • Stephen

    I wonder if Three are upgrading in order of their most used masts rather than doing whole towns and cities?
    In Aberdeen we have recently had 2 masts activated, they do not have a wide coverage at all but the speeds are very high if you can receive a signal. The coverage map isn’t very accurate, I find that you can get a 4G signal in the pink area but nothing at all in the blue areas. Roll on the 800MHZ rollout!

    • Kevin

      Aberdeen is in the list of towns and cities that Three comment on:
      We’re on target to roll-out our 4G network to selected sites in or around the following towns and cities by the end of 2014.

  • Stephen

    But what we have no way of knowing is how much of any city they plan to cover. They have some 4G coverage here but they won’t say which cities they plan to expand coverage soon & which ones they are leaving as is.
    We can’t really complain I guess, 02 & Vodafone give virtually no information at all on their rollout & EE are also quite vague so at least Three are giving us a little more than the others.

  • Roger Thorne

    When i work in Bristol i find that quite big parts are covered with 4g but not all.
    Very good speeds though.

  • Tommyt

    Three have never been forthcoming with information. They still operate in a world of avoiding giving out the true facts to customers questions. They hype up everything but cannot deliver to match it. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is spot on with Three. It’s ok if you live near a mast. Glasgow city centre is still not covered with a 4g signal. It’s cheap as chips but there are better offers out there that give you 4g coverage.

  • Peter Hicks

    Trying to accurately find out if three,s 4 g is covering your area is like asking the gchq for a list of their spies ,go the checker they say ,ok but you can’t move the map around and my area off the bottom of the map , ask three you say ok ,and you get oh we are rolling it out in 2015 ,then you people saying I can get if I go across the otherwise of the town but not at home ,then we hear that tree is buying EE which has 90% plus coverage ,so if they are doing that why would they spend millions rolling out their own , getting the truth about this is like trying to find an mp who will lay straight in bed !

  • Alex Violaras

    Is any having problems with 4G signal in the Ilford area around high Road seven Kings high Road ig1 1 tz post code I haven’t been able to get 4g for over a month now
    Regards Alex