February 14, 2014

Three’s 4G coverage might be wider spread than it’s letting on – so what’s going on?

4G ready

Three’s 4G progress may be more advanced than you think?

In theory Three’s 4G network is currently limited to just London, Manchester, Birmingham and Reading, yet our readers are reporting that they’ve been able to access Three’s 4G service in other locations too, so what’s going on?

Three has been very mysterious about the status of its 4G network and who can access it. Initially it was limited to just 3000 people but now it looks like Three is starting to activate 4G on more people’s accounts, theoretically bringing the number of customers with 4G access up to 1.5 million by the end of the month.

Unfortunately the network hasn’t revealed who those lucky 1.5 million will be or what order the updates are rolling out in, so you’ll just have to keep an eye on your phone.

A big mystery

three_4G_coverageThe bigger mystery though is what locations you can actually access 4G from, as it’s seemingly more widespread than Three has let on. Our readers have reported getting 4G in Newcastle upon Tyne, Liverpool, Glasgow, Nottingham, Oxford and Leicester, none of which are meant to have it yet.

That said, they are all among the cities that Three promises to bring 4G to by the end of the year and we’re hearing that coverage in some of them is still patchy, for example Glasgow has no coverage in the city centre according to one of our readers, while Newcastle has patchy coverage around Central Station and by the Tyne bridge. So it could be that Three has switched 4G on in those locations but isn’t going to announce it until the coverage is more consistent.

Interestingly Three’s 4G coverage map also shows 4G in those locations, but it’s noticeably patchier than in London, Birmingham, Manchester or Reading, which adds credence to the idea that perhaps Three just isn’t happy enough with the coverage yet to announce it, though it seems odd that it would even make 4G available before it was ready.

If the coverage map is to be believed then Leicester’s coverage is particularly lacking. Most of the city has no coverage at all, but Spinney Hill Park, North Evington and Humberstone Park should be able to get 4G both indoors and outdoors, while many of the surrounding areas should get outdoor coverage.

Nottingham fares a little better, again much of the city itself has no coverage according to the map, but surrounding areas like Aspley, Redhill, Arnold and Long Eaton should have a mix of indoor and outdoor coverage.

Newcastle’s coverage should theoretically be far better, with most of the city getting 4G outdoors, while quite a bit of the city centre along with parts of Byker should get indoor coverage too.

Glasgow’s coverage is rather underwhelming, with areas around Queen Street, Central and Argyle Street station getting no coverage at all, which tallies with comments that there’s no coverage in the city centre. But outdoor coverage should start around Glasgow High Street, while both indoor and outdoor coverage can theoretically be found in the areas around Main Street and the Bridgeton and Dalmarnock stations.

Liverpool’s city centre is again neglected, as there’s very little 4G signal between the river Mersey and Liverpool John Moores University, but outdoor coverage starts there and it gets better as you head east, with surrounding areas like Everton, Kirkdale, Edge Hill and Fazakerley getting both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Finally, Oxford actually has quite good coverage, with most of the city supposedly receiving 4G when outdoors, while much of the city centre along with Marston and Cowley should also get indoor coverage.

What Three’s 4G coverage map reveals

Three 4G coverageBut while those are the only locations that we’ve heard reports about 4G in, they’re not the only ones showing on Three’s coverage map. Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Huddersfield, Leeds, Luton, Preston, Slough, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea and Watford all show varying degrees of coverage too and they’re all locations that Three promise to bring 4G to by the end of the year, so it could be that they’re partially up and running already.

In which case far from having 4G in just 4 cities, Three actually has it in 26 cities, albeit quite patchily in a number of cases. Though it’s worth noting that the remainder of the cities that have been promised 4G by the end of the year, specifically Aberdeen, Brighton, Cambridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Gloucester, Ipswich, Kingston upon Hull, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Norwich, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent, Stockport, Swindon and York, have no sign of it yet on the coverage map (click here to access Three’s 4G coverage checker).

Not only does that presumably mean that there’s no 4G there yet but it also suggests that they’ll all be getting it towards the end of the year, while the cities showing 4G now feasibly might officially have it in the next few months.

All of this is guess work of course, because Three isn’t being particularly forthcoming, but if you have a 4G enabled phone on Three and live in any of the areas which are showing 4G it might be worth testing it out.

Help us find out more

Let us know in the comments box below if you do manage to test it and if so whether it matches up with what’s being shown on Three’s coverage map. It may not, but some users are certainly getting 4G where they’re not supposed to, so it’s a good starting point.

If the coverage map’s correct then Three’s 4G rollout could be a lot further along than they’re letting on, which is good news for everyone. Now you just need to wait for the network to enable 4G on your account, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, given that Three has promised to enable it on 1.5 million accounts by the end of the month, with more presumably to follow soon after.

 Looking to find out how you get 4G on Three?

  • James Vincent

    There is very patchy out door coverage covering the south half of Cardiff & the East side of the Vale of Glamorgan on the map. That’s also confirmed by friends who are on 3.

    • Simon Thomas

      Got 4g on Three in Cardiff Bay. 10mbps

    • lee g

      got 4g coverage near trafford center in manchester, download speed (8mb/s) did not seem much better than 3G but upload speed 18mb lol, until i went inside then phone dropped to 3g again

      need to be able to keep 4G enabled even when signal is low(once it hit 1-2 bars it moved over to 3G) as most phones drop back to lower tech (2g/3g) when signal is low

    • umar farooq

      I got 4g in dewsbury on three even though it shouldn’t have according to coverage checker. I managed to get 31m/b download

  • lee

    still awaiting 4G to be be activated on my account (nokia 820) in Warrington so i can test it (below)

    but 3UK coverage is only shown in Manchester and Liverpool, but there is a big mast NBNL setup (t-mobile/3UK) just down the road that already has 4G coverage on EE, should just be a matter turning on 4G for 3 (the backhall should already be there due to EE 4G on that mast) i get 15-18mb/s when i have line of sight of the mast (1-5mb/s when a house is in the way)

    can you Please tell the site coder to turn OFF italic in the comment box

  • Sun

    4g has been enabled on my iPhone 5 and I do get 4g at my office in Camden. However it is very erratic and continually switches between 3/4g during the day.

    According to the the 3 coverage map I live smack in the middle of a 4g zone at home. Nonsense! I only get a 3G signal and two bars. Very frustrating to say the least. My wife has 4g on O2 which is vey stable and impressive.

  • Stephen

    No sign of 4G in Aberdeen city or shire yet but I have noticed a lot of improvements in many areas that were pretty good in the first place. Plus, in the city the busy beach area has been a bit of a Three blackspot but in recent weeks I’ve been getting 15MB/S.
    I just tested at 24MB/S this morning out in the middle of nowhere, Aberdeenshire in particular seems to be getting many speed boosts, with lots of towns and villages receiving speeds between 10-24 MB/S.
    Really great coverage already but can’t wait for the day that the little 4G signal appears on my phone!
    EE were making good progress with 4G in December but nothing new seems to have happened for a long time now so hopefully Three can overtake them in Aberdeen. Wishful thinning I’m sure but stranger things have happened!

  • Kyle

    Working in Oxford, I was surprised to have 4G on my iPhone 5S for the first time the other day. It’ seems to be only around South Oxford so we are talking Cowley, Rose Hill and Blackbird Leys. The service seems legit with a speedtest.net text showing a 48.90mpbs download speed and around 12mpbs upload. It drops off as soon as you get on to the ring road.

  • Dan

    I was driving through Coventry today and up popped 4G on my phone in the two locations shown on the coverage map. However it’s showing outdoor coverage over the city centre, but I don’t think this is the case as I was only getting 3G in the city centre. The two areas, mainly Stoke, Coventry and Fosehill, Coventry which show indoor and outdoor coverage were giving 4G this afternoon.

  • Rob Knight

    I’ve got 4g on three where I work in Bournemouth! – last weekend apparently three, O2 and EE added a purposely built 4g microcell on ten roof of our building (a tech company). Our infrastructure team said it was due to the area we work in being a “technical capital” of Bournemouth, so that might explain it as we sure do have a lot of heavy data users here!

    I also spotted it briefly in Southampton earlier on today when passing through!

    Although coverage in both locations is patchy as the article says, I’m happy three are taking the jump earlier than expected and not keeping us all waiting :)

  • Lee

    I’m very happy with Three’s H+ on my Galaxy S4.

    Consistently get around 20meg on speedtest.net app the best being 28.66 at home in Blackburn, Lancashire.

  • Jon

    Got a full 4G signal in most of Luton the other day. Only reverted to 3G ocassionally and finally disappeared as I went onto the M1

  • Intrakota

    We have 4G here in East Coventry, D/L running at around 45 to 50 Mb/s and U/L of 22Mb/s.
    Best speeds I have achieved so far was outside Digbeth Coach Station, Birmingham – 64.52Mb/s Download, 22Mb/s Upload.

  • Gary Longden

    Got 4g here in sheffield it’s in Beighton near woodhouse, download speeds of 45mb and upload of 18mb… Not baaaad :)

  • Mike K

    In the last few days, I have found three 4G in the following areas of Leicester. The first was on the Thurmaston area as stated by the Coverage Checker, but also in the area near the M1/M69 junction in Fosse Park and the area in and around the Republic Bar in the City Centre (both not stated on the Coverage Checker). The speed of the service was impressive, best described as ‘blistering fast’ despite having 2-3 bars on the signal strength. I cannot wait for 4G to become available all over Leicester.

    • Mobi

      I just had 4g at the walkers stadium for the Leicester game against Ipswich

  • Paul

    Got a 4g signal in Stoke on Trent yesterday, ST1 5PA, which is outside the area shown on their coverage map. OOKLA speedtest registered 40.98 download and 1.94 upload.

  • will

    I’ve found 4G is available in the Westbourne area of Bournemouth (along the high street) but not in the centre of Bournemouth itself or in any of the areas indicated on the coverage map; according to the map Westbourne should have no 4G but I got 33Mbps download a couple of days ago!

    Very mysterious. I’m sure more will be revealed in due course.

  • Lukasz

    Areas of Southampton are also now showing 4G both inside and outside.

  • Bill

    4g coverage in newcastle under Lyme on three, very good signal

  • Arron

    Stoke on Trent coverage is limited in the city center but is full in newcastle under lyme and is spreading more everyday!
    Got 60down/25up on the day it went live with 30ms pings.

  • Dominic

    Just tested in Normanton Derby and can confirm the map is correct as it is up and running.

  • Weegie

    4G coverage in Glasgow seems to coincide with the commonwealth games venues. East End, Parkhead and Tollcross.

  • mark

    I am getting patch 4g in newcastle ipon tyne but with vastly reduced signal bars.

  • Ash

    Stoke on Trent city centre is totally covered with 4G within the ring road

    Other areas are patchy…

    But the three website using a city centre postcode like ST1 5AF says 3G only..

    Inside my gym just outside the city centre has 4G tho.. spotify is lovely on 4G :)

  • Martyn

    A Friend on Three reported that he had 4G in the Carlton area of Nottingham today which is currently showing as no coverage on the maps and postcode check.

  • juls

    Just got 4G in Birmingham at new street station platform 9.,,,

  • p

    The Three coverage website shows signals in the West of Edinburgh, the EH12 postcode, getting better the more one goes westwards – around Murrayfield is seems to have good outside coverage, and further west (Sighthill park area) both inside and outside coverage: can anyone confirm this?

    • John Stevens

      Yes good three 4G signel on the A720

  • Nigel

    Can I get this 4G you speak of on my Nokia 3310?

  • Sarah

    I got 4g in York today (just north of the city centre) at 19Mbps (speedtest.net).

  • David

    Received 4G on my phone when around the Toton area near Nottingham. The maps show an “indoor” signal for that area, which matches up. For my own home, between Nottingham and Derby the coverage map shows an “outdoor” 4G signal but, sadly, I don’t get one.

    I have an unlocked Nexus 5. Three have been talking about needing a software update for 4G to work but, when I asked them how this would be applied to unlocked phones on their network, they didn’t respond. I think this is the answer… they don’t need one. No update and I can pick up 4G on Three’s network fine.

  • Alastair Davies

    I’ve been getting a good 4G signal (indoors and outdoors) in Sighthill area for the past couple of weeks.
    Nothing yet in Morningside.

  • Joel

    Just got one bar of 4G signal in Southampton Central on my iPhone 5 – albeit very briefly, it is there.

  • Bunter

    Not long commented on another part of this site about 4G now showing for Mastrick Aberdeen
    using the android app NETWORK DATA
    24/02/14 23.40 HRS
    BIT ERROR -1
    LAC 36

    UPLOAD 5.29

    • Stephen

      Hi Bunter

      WOW, that’s good to hear! I drove along the Lang Stracht last night & only picked up 3G, how long have you been able to pick up 4G for? The mast near Dobbies seems to constantly pump out speeds of around 20 MB/S on 3G, but the speeds you are getting are much faster. I might have to take a drive by later to see if I can get 4G too! nothing in Westhill yet, if only it could reach over the hill!!

  • Gavin

    I was in a three store,asking about when 4G was coming to town (Not going to say which one, as don’t want to get the person in trouble). But he said they are upgrading areas by how contested they are. So this would explain patchy coverage.

    So if a mast was contested, I guest they would upgrade it to 4g. Then transfer all costumers with 4g phones to 4g. Freeing up bandwidth for costumers with only 3g phones.

    To me this makes alt more sense as I don’t care if it’s 3G or 4g just as long a it works.

  • tom

    Got 4g briefly this afternoon in the fen Ditton area of Cambridge. Didn’t have a chance to speed test it though.

    • Matthew Morgan

      Ditton that would be a fast roll out EE only made it they last month.

  • paul

    I also have patch coverage around Newcastle Tyne bridge area. Where I work. I sometimes have it in my office, today I don’t. I also get it around centre for life area and even in Gateshead across the river from the arena in Teams/Dunston when im outside, where I live

  • Lee

    Got a 4g signal in the Tesco Extra which is in the s4 area of Sheffield yesterday. On the website it says 4g not available in Sheffield… Testing perhaps?

  • Stephen

    I drove through the 4G areas of Dundee & Glasgow on Thursday but couldn’t pick it up, I guess my phone hasn’t yet been activated. Will try again this evening!

  • Dave

    Picked up 4g in south west Sheffield (Dore). 23 Mb/s up and down on a Nexus 5.

  • Barrie

    I was in Cardiff Central train station a few weeks ago and got a blistering 69mbps download 21mbps upload. My jaw dropped – that’s better than BT Infinity!!

  • Greg

    Southampton has good coverage around Shirley (mast near Lidl) and Northam. Had over 38 down 18 up.

  • neil

    Getting 1-2 bars on my nexus 5 indoors in Sheffield S4.

    Fluctuating between 17 and 32 down , 4-12 up.

  • Matthew Morgan

    Three still have not added Cambridge to the map when it has been active for 5 days.

  • Nick

    My Nokia 1020 had 4g greyed out and only 3g available until I had a recent Nokia/windows update to Black, it does now show 4g as available. Three recently updated the coverage map for Slough. My postcode shows 4g outdoors,ultra fast 3G indoors and outdoors as excellent and 3G as excellent. Well the map is very inaccurate. I can’t get anything other than dial up speed 3G unless I get up in the middle of the night, it times out in the day time on the speed check apps rarely getting above 1 mbps.
    However, a kilometre away and 4g fires up with 38mbps down and 17 Mbps up. Non 4g parts of Slough get ultra fast 3G and easily get 20 download and 2 upload.
    Wish my postcode SL1 2JW reflected the coverage map and 4 g rollout correctly covers my area, otherwise I will have wasted a huge amount of money on my contract.

  • Nick Adams

    Interestingly, with my job I’ve been to Leeds, Leicester and Liverpool over the last 2 weeks and have got a 4G signal on my iPhone . Each was in the city centres, Leeds the best coverage going from the city centre out to the North towards Harrogate (ironically it stopped exactly on the point you leave the city). Works very well I did a speedtest in each city, was averaging about 11mbs, Leicester was about 16mbs. I think 3 are going to Lead the way with this, there’s no point to 4G if you have a cap and pay a price like EE.

  • Jonathan Smith

    I noticed last night 4G coverage around the beehive centre in Cambridge. Wasn’t venturing out anywhere else so cannot confirm other areas but it had decent strength and a welcome speed boost! I also get it across parts of London. “Free” unlimited 4G, can’t beat it!

  • ryan holness

    I have 3 4G in huddersfield

  • Graham Wells

    I have just found that 3 are showing eh20 on there 4g and it’s working at that post code 20.2mbps

  • Roger Thorne

    I was working in Bristol today and had a 4g signal on my lumia. I tried a speed test but it was only 7/8 m so i assume i need to get the update before i can access 4g.

  • Rick

    4G on my 4G Mifi in Newcastle upon Tyne from Eldon Square bus station to other side of Redheugh bridge.

  • Mark

    My iPhone 5 4G symbol just lit up this morning. Did a few indoor tests (London E7) and ended up with an impressive average of 35mbps down and 25mbps up. Off to work shortly so I’ll give outdoor a go. Where I am we have good line of sight to two Three masts around a quarter mile away.

    Odd thing is I had a big jump in speed the other day – but on 3G according to the indicator. The same 35mbps down as I now get with 4G, but only the usual 2.5mbps up that I’ve had for months.

  • Roger Thorne

    I reported 4g in the centre of Bristol last week.
    Since then i have found it spreading to other outlying parts of Bristol.
    Last night in the Filton area i got 35 m up and 30 m down.
    I also found it in Kingswood area.

  • Margaret Ferguson

    Three 4G signal strong in York City centre today on iPhone 5S

  • Malcolm Mellon

    I suddenly and briefly got 4g on a bus passing through eglington toll in Glasgow. It’s quite closer to my home so sounds hopeful

  • Malcolm Mellon

    Actually 4g around central Glasgow on 3 comes up a lot, but using speed checker it’s not actually very fast so might be in test mode.

  • Stephen

    Had some mixed results in Glasgow yesterday. Driving through the supposed strong area around the Southern & General Hospital I couldn’t get a flicker of 4G but over in the city centre where there’s no coverage (by the Marriott) I was getting 23/7 which I thought was very good considering the number of tall buildings in the surrounding area. Interestingly, I got much better speeds at ground level than at the top of a high rise. 14 floors up the speed dropped to around 12/2!

  • Dave

    Now getting 4G in Dundee city centre. Outlying areas still on 3G

  • simon

    Well after being told that kent wouldnt get 4g until 2015 the three 4g signal seems to be spreading like wildfire. No fanfare or big announcements like the others but it seems that im picking up 4g is large parts of kent now. Seems a lot of the 2015 rollout has moved to 2014. Took them a while to come to the party but kudos for the speed they are rolling out in. Really impressive compared to vodafone and o2.

  • Scott

    4G in Bradford and also between Brighouse and Elland near Halifax. Speed isn’t that great at the moment only around 10Mbps

  • Simon

    No sign of 4g anywhere I travel: London and Surrey. Can’t check the coverage map, still not open after 5 minutes….looks like I chose the wrong firm.

  • Kifel Jatt

    Im probably thw unluckiest person in leeds. I can get a 4G connection whilest in school(Woodhouse cliff/ Hyde park area) but i CANT get it down the road where i live. DAMN!!!

    • Kifel Jatt


  • Gary

    Getting patchy coverage in Plymouth now

  • Vince

    Seeing 4G at our office on Three in Exeter now – multiple people seeing this in the last couple of days… hurrah!

  • Iain

    I’ve noticed it periodically in Exeter, too, since Saturday 3rd May. I was told that 4G SHOULD not just be faster Internet speed, but also have a wider coverage (signal strength) than 3G. Signal strength is still rubbish and no better than 3G and I’m less than 1 mile from the city centre.

    Maybe it’s just on preliminary testing and that full strength will be available soon.

  • Mike

    4G on the pogmoor side of town in Barnsley but not in town centre.

    • Mike

      23mb download 6mb upload

  • Paul

    On 2nd May I was getting 4G in Doncaster town centre. One day only. Never before and never since.
    I was getting 29Mbps down and 22.28 upload.
    I want it back!!!

  • John L S

    4G periodically in Ipswich on Friday 9 May. Speeds of 9.2 Mbps

    • Debby

      Only seen it in a v small area on Norwich Rd near the double roundabouts.

      • http://Fuckbook Mossy

        Good 4g signal up at b&q, asda whitehouse ind estate.

  • Rex

    As of today my HTC ONE is now picking up a weak 4G signal at BN41 (Portslade, Brighton)

  • Rex

    Actually now a strong signal. 29.17 download 21.38 upload speed.

  • dave

    three are working on the 1800mhz signal not the 800mhz signal yet can pick 4g up in beeston leeds but only outdoors ,indoors if 4g dongle next to window ,come on three pull your finger out

  • Paul

    Hi I have 4G in north wales

  • Jake

    Some very sketchy reception in Bath, south of city. ~4mb download indoors, -120dbm, probably coming from Bristol.

  • Angie

    I’ve been getting 4G for over a month in Edinburgh. I first got 4G in the sighthill area around the car garages on 11 April and then as I live in the city centre I seem to have had it constantly for the past two weeks.

  • Philip Webster

    I live very close to Nottingham City centre and do not get 4G. However I have had very good 4G signal in both Long Eaton and Wollaton Park.

  • Swaff

    Picked up 4G twice now on outskirts of Brighton. At southwick on the coast road, and today at the top end of Ditchling Rd near Varndean

  • Stephen

    Picking up coverage in Aberdeen today. Getting 23/17 in Rosemount & a whopping 42/17 on Wellington Road. Coverage is short range but strong, can’t wait til it switches on around the city (& shire hopefully!).

    • Stephen

      Aberdeen is now officially showing 4G on the coverage checker map.

  • Olumide

    I activated my 3 SIM card today on iPhone 5s and it is showing 4G though switching to 3G occasionally though mostly 4G.

    I haven’t test the speed yet.

  • Olumide

    I forgot to say I live in Barnsley South Yorkshire

  • Will Shirk

    4G in Glasgow at Garscadden Train Station. Latest speed test on 4G network with Three at that location reports 41.85Mbps download and 4.73Mbps upload. Not too bad. My 3G speeds on Three around 8.3Mbps – 16.31Mbps download and 1.16Mbps – 4.0Mbps upload.

  • Paul

    Just had 4g pop up in the last two days in sunderland only near the city centre though no where else, on my iPhone 5s the speed is fantastic.

  • bob

    got a 4G signal 3 days ago at SUNDERLAND after android 4.2.2 update.

    first, i checked 3 website for a 4G coverage in my area, still “to come soon”
    then, i called 3 services, same answer as the website shows. [though the chap on the other end thinks i was joking]
    and lastly, went to 3 shop at bridges..they are not aware of any changes to any SR postcodes that may offer 4G support from 3

    my phone is a galaxy mega 6, with the product code ending in 5. the phone was bought last year simfree and unbranded in asia during a holiday

    does this mean that if the phone is unbranded, and sim free, no need to download the so called 4g software up since the phone itself automatically enables itself to 4G???

    at least im not the only one who got spooked on this free 4G upgrade.

  • Pete

    I have 4g in parts of Chelmsford.

  • Ron

    Stevenage Herts 4g town center around 23mps down 18mps up on the outskirts roaring meg retail park 27.35 mps down 2.37mps up & 28.29 mps down 11.05 up
    In Luton sundon trading estate have had around 38mps up 27 mps down
    using iphone 5

  • jimbob

    1 to 2 bars 4G Shropshire in Telford. Still faster than average 3g speeds in the day time.

  • Martin

    2 bars 4G outdoors at Bath Royal United Hospital (Weston area of bath) reverting back to full 3G inside. Speed check displayed 23meg down 1meg up.

  • Leggy

    Getting 4G in various parts of Swansea City centre. Mainly around the marina, civic centre, and train station!

  • http://mark.matson@tiscali.co.uk Mark

    No 4G here in Cotswolds nor really 3G a bit of 2G suspect we will be the last if at all to get this technology like broadband too!

  • Shree Rai

    I have experienced 4G from three at Maidstone town (Kent) & Aldershot town (Surrey) too. But the coverage is not at wider area.

  • Ebsy2000

    Have had 4g outside and once inside the Airbus east factory in Broughton north Wales, also got it at the crossroads by the King William pub, nearby stawell which is near Glastonbury, right on the cross, but not even 3g in the pub.