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Three 4G Coverage and Network Review

14th November 2017

Three Network Coverage

Three was the last major UK network to launch a 4G service, but despite that it has over 91% population coverage and that figure is growing all the time.

Three is aiming for at least 98% UK population coverage ultimately, and already stands out for its unlimited data tariffs, free roaming in numerous international destinations, and more.

Pros

Cons

Free roaming beyond the EU

Less 4G coverage than rivals

Unlimited data plans

Not the fastest network

Competitive prices

Not all plans allow tethering or global roaming

Our Rating

Coverage

Unlike the other UK networks Three don't offer 2G, but instead only offer 3G and 4G services with coverage reaching 97% and 91% of the UK population respectively. That puts them slightly behind their rivals, but Three are investing heavily in their network and launching new innovations such as 4G Super-Voice.

Network Type Coverage by population
4G  91%
3G 97%
2G N/A

Use Three’s coverage checker below to find out more about Three coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Towns and cities with partial or full coverage include:

Aberdeen, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Gloucester, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend On Sea, Stoke on Trent, Swindon, Watford and York.

Not only is that just a partial list, but Three is adding to it all the time. So if you don't have 4G where you are now you likely will do soon.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

Three uses standard 4G, which is around 5 times faster than a standard 3G network. The network’s average 4G download speed is currently 18.92Mbit/sec, while its average 4G upload speed is 9.8Mbit/sec. That’s not the fastest but it is competitive and easily speedy enough to smoothly carry out most tasks, whether streaming, downloading or working.

  • Average Download Speed: 18.92 Mbit/sec
  • Average Upload Speed: 9.8 Mbit/sec

Three uses the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band can travel over long distances, making it a good fit for rural locations, where masts are often spread far apart. But it can also do a good job of penetrating walls, making it great for bringing 4G indoors.

1800MHz meanwhile isn’t quite as long range or as good at passing through walls, but it’s available in a higher capacity, which means it can cope with lots of simultaneous connections.

For more in depth information, check out our 4G frequencies guide.

  • 800MHz used for 4G
  • 1800MHz used for 4G
  • 2100 MHz used for 3G

Three 4G Super-Voice

Three was the first UK network to offer a Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service. Called 4G Super Voice, the service allows customers to make calls over 4G. This improves call quality among other things and is rapidly being rolled out across the UK, with over 84% of the UK population already covered indoors.

Go Binge

Three now lets Advanced Plan customers and mobile broadband customers with an allowance of at least 4GB 'Go Binge'. That means they can stream as much as they want on Netflix, Apple Music, Deezer, TVPlayer and SoundCloud without it coming out of their data allowance.

Plans

Three has a range of Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go plans. They stand out through high – and in some cases unlimited – data allowances, and if you opt for an Advanced Plan additional extra features, full details of which you’ll find below, however all plans, whether Essential or Advanced, come with 4G at no extra cost.

Pay Monthly Phone Plans

 

Essential

Advanced

Roaming beyond the EU

No

Yes

Tethering

No

Yes

Max Data Allowance

4GB Unlimited

Contract Length

24 Months 24 Months

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Three’s Pay Monthly Plans are split into Essential and Advanced Plans, with Advanced Plans giving you access to Three’s Feel at Home Around the World roaming service (detailed below), and giving you the ability to use your data for tethering.

Advanced Plans also let you make free calls to Three’s customer services and in some cases offer unlimited data. On the other hand they’re more expensive than Essential Plans.

SIM Only Plans

 

Essential

Advanced

Roaming beyond the EU

No

Yes

Tethering

No

Yes

Max Data Allowance

4GB Unlimited

Contract Length

1 or 12 Months 1 or 12 Months
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Three’s SIM Only Plans are also split into Essential or Advanced Plans, with Advanced Plans giving you inclusive roaming beyond the EU, allowing you to tether and giving you free calls to customer services – as well as offering more data at the top end, while Essential Plans are simply cheaper.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

Three also offers Data Only plans for tablets, MiFi devices and dongles. These come with data but don’t include any minutes or texts. They are available on 1 or 12-month contracts (or 24 months if you get a plan with a tablet) and come with up to 40GB of data.

Pay As You Go

Three also offers a range of Pay As You Go bundles, most of which give you an allowance of minutes, texts and data, but some of which are designed just to boost one of those three things.

All of these bundles last 30 days, and while they don’t automatically renew you can queue them. Three doesn’t allow you to tether on Pay As You Go, but you can use your allowances with Three’s Feel at Home Around the World roaming service.

Bundle

Minutes

Texts

Data

Price

All in One 10

3000

3000

1GB

£10
All in One 15 3000 3000 5GB £15

All in One 20

3000

3000

12GB

£20

All in One 25

3000

3000

30GB

£25
All in One 35 3000 3000 Unlimited £35

3000 3to3

3000 Three-to-Three N/A N/A £5

3000 texts

N/A 3000 N/A £5

500MB

N/A N/A 500MB £5

If you don’t buy a bundle, or you use up your allowances, you’ll be charged 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per megabyte.

Three Roaming Destinations

Three also offers services abroad, allowing you to continue to use your data, minutes and texts at no extra cost. The full service is called Feel at Home Around the World and is only available on Advanced Plans. This lets you roam at no extra cost in the following 60 locations:

Aland Islands, Australia, Austria, Azores, Balearic Islands, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Réunion, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, US Virgin Islands, USA and The Vatican City.

However, be aware that currently only 3G is offered by Three in Feel At Home locations and that on Essential Plans you only have access to Feel at Home in Europe. This lets you roam in 48 of the above destinations, but only those in Europe, so on an Essential Plan you won't be able to roam in:

Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Macau, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Sri Lanka, USA or the US Virgin Islands.

Conclusion

Three has less 4G coverage than EE, Vodafone or O2, but it’s increasing all the time and the network has plenty of other benefits including higher data limits than any of its main rivals, free roaming in a large number of places, and competitively low prices.

It's the network to choose if you’re a heavy data user or put value for money ahead of speed and coverage.

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