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Three Coverage and Network Review

16th July 2024

Three Network Coverage

Three has widespread 4G coverage and has now rolled out 5G in over 650 towns and cities for a total coverage of over 60% of the UK outdoors – with a 5G network which could have some advantages over rivals.

Beyond that, Three really stands out through its competitive prices, which if anything tend to be lower than the UK’s other major networks.

Below you’ll find a full review and overview of the network, as well as information on the ways in which it stands out and those in which it could improve.




Relatively good 5G coverage

Tests suggest 4G latency could be improved

High 5G speeds

Fewer extras than rivals

Competitive prices with 5G at no extra cost

Charges for roaming on cheapest plans

Our Rating

Table of Contents


Three Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population


Now available in over 650 locations




98.7% (but will be switched off by end of 2024)



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5G coverage

Three 5G is now available in over 650 towns and cities, covering over 60% of the UK outdoors. We can’t get more specific than that because Three hasn’t provided an updated total in a while, but it may well be a long way over 650 by now.

Three is offering 5G at no extra cost on all Pay Monthly contracts, SIM Only, and Pay As You Go plans, although you will of course need a 5G ready device to access the service.

Due to the amount of 5G-ready spectrum Three has it has also said that it’s the only UK network in a position to offer ‘true’ 5G, which could allow for speeds up to twice as fast as rivals. Three hasn’t talked specific numbers, but given EE’s 5G speeds that could mean peak speeds of over 2Gbps – though initially it’s unlikely to be quite that fast. See further down for a bit more on speeds.

Of course, you’ll need a 5G phone and plan to take advantage, but Three stocks many such phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S24Samsung Galaxy S24 PlusSamsung Galaxy S24 UltraiPhone 15iPhone 15 ProiPhone 15 Pro MaxiPhone 15 Plus, iPhone SE (2022), and many others, with more sure to land soon.

4G coverage

Three has 99.8% population coverage with 4G, which is a competitive amount, roughly in line with rivals.

As with 5G, Three is continuing to expand its 4G coverage, so if you don't have 4G where you are now you likely will do soon.

3G coverage

At last count, Three had 98.7% population coverage with 3G, and as with 4G that’s competitive with rivals. Between the two technologies you should be able to get a signal almost anywhere in the UK – while faster 5G coverage is rapidly improving.

Note however that Three is planning to switch off its 3G service by the end of 2024, and it will be gradually phased out ahead of that, so expect 3G coverage to drop soon (if it hasn’t already) and disappear completely before too long. However this process will allow Three to strengthen its 4G and 5G networks.

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


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 a number of extra features, full details of which you’ll find below.

Three Pay Monthly Plans


Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

Max Data




Contract lengths

12, 24 or 36 months

1, 12 or 24 months

1, 12 or 24 months


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SIM Only Deals

8 GB data



12 Month Contract

£7.00 a month

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30 GB data



12 Month Contract

£8.00 a month

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60 GB data



12 Month Contract

£10.00 a month

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120 GB data



12 Month Contract

£12.00 a month

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Unlimited data



12 Month Contract

£23.00 a month

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Three’s current set of Pay Monthly plans are known as ‘Three Your Way,’ and they’re designed to be quite customisable. If you’re buying a Pay Monthly smartphone, Three lets you choose whether to pay it off over 12, 24 or 36 months, or you can pay it all off upfront. Whatever you choose, you’ll then also have a separate 12 or 24-month plan with your allowances.

If you pick a SIM Only plan, then things are simpler, with just a choice of a 1-month, 12-month, or 24-month plan. For both phones and SIMs you can get up to unlimited data, and you can use your data for tethering.

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, 12 or 24-month contracts and come with up to unlimited data.

There is a bit more to all these Three Your Way plans though, as the network splits them into Lite, Value, and Complete plans.

All of them come with 5G at no extra cost, along with access to the Three+ rewards app, and unlimited calls and texts, but if you pick a Value plan then you additionally get a Paramount+ subscription for half the length of your plan, the ability to roam abroad at no extra cost for up to 28 days, and an extended warranty of up to 3 years if you’re buying a device.

Choose a Complete plan, and the Paramount+ subscription lasts for the full duration, you can roam at no extra cost for up to 56 days, you still get the extended warranty, and you also get screen repair included on 24-month plans when taken with a device. Note that Paramount+ is also available as an optional extra on Lite plans, but of course you’ll have to pay for it.

Pay As You Go Plans

Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance


Add-on expiry 

30 days

Top Up Expiry

180 days inactivity


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Three additionally offers a range of Pay As You Go bundles, which give you an allowance of data coupled with unlimited minutes and texts.

These bundles last 30 days, and can be set to renew automatically (in which case you’ll get more data for your money). Three also allows you to tether on Pay As You Go, as well as use 5G, roam at no extra cost in over 70 destinations, and access the Three+ rewards app.

If you don’t buy a bundle, or you use up your allowances, you’ll be charged 35p per minute, 15p per text and 10p per megabyte.

Three policies and perks


Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only SIM




Wi-Fi Calling


Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check


Three’s plans then at their core stand out from some rivals through having competitive prices and access to Three+, but there’s more to them than that, with the other key extras detailed below.


Three offers 5G as standard on all of its SIMs, whether you’re going Pay Monthly with a phone, SIM Only, or Data Only, so you won’t pay any extra for it. Though of course if you get a 4G phone on a Pay Monthly plan then you won’t be able to make use of 5G, but that’s true on every network.

Roaming Destinations

Three used to allow customers to roam for free in many locations, but now this is only available to Value plan, Complete plan, and Pay As You Go customers. Any Lite plan customers who signed up for a new contract or renewed their contract from October 1st, 2021, onwards will be charged £2 per day to use their allowances in EU countries. The charge goes up to £5 per day for countries outside the EU that used to offer free roaming on Three. The affected countries are as follows:

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

Free roaming is still offered in the Isle of Man and the Republic of Ireland though.

That amounts to 71 destinations, but more recently Three has added an additional 92 destinations to its roaming offering, which cost £7 per day to roam in if you don’t have a Value or Complete plan. These are categorised as ‘Go Roam Around the World Extra’, and are as follows:

Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba (Netherlands Antilles), Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire (Netherlands Antilles), Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, China, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Curacao (Netherlands Antilles), Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Faroe Islands, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Greenland, Grenada, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Saba (Netherlands Antilles), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sint Eustatius (Netherlands Antilles), Sint Maarten (Netherlands Antilles), South Africa, South Korea, Suriname, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uzbekistan, and Zambia.

As noted though, if you’re on a Pay As You Go plan then you can roam in all of the above places (other than Go Roam Around the World Extra destinations) at no extra cost. Three’s Value plans and Complete plans let you roam in all of the above locations, including Go Roam Around the World Extra destinations, but with some limits.

If you have a 12-month Value plan then you can roam for up to 14 days, while a 24-month Value plan lets you roam for 28 days. On a Complete plan, you get 28 free roaming days on a 12-month plan and 56 on a 24-month plan.

Note that at the time of writing you can also only use up to 12GB of your data allowance when roaming.

All customers can also roam in an extended list of destinations by purchasing a Data Passport for £5 per day.


Tethering comes on all of Three’s current plans, and the network lets you use as much of your data as you want for tethering. That means if you have a plan with unlimited data you can tether indefinitely.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling allows you to seamlessly call and text over Wi-Fi, making it ideal if you’re in an area with no signal, and it’s a service that Three offers as standard.

It works on the majority of phones, however Three can’t guarantee that it will work on devices not bought direct from the network.


VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE, and it means being able to make and receive calls over 4G, which is handy as it allows you to continue calling in areas which don’t have a 3G signal. Call quality is also sometimes higher when using VoLTE.

Three was the first UK network to offer a VoLTE service, one which it calls 4G Super-Voice. This comes as standard on plans and is currently available across Three’s entire 4G network.

Data rollover

Three doesn’t offer data rollover on any of its plans. If it did, you’d be able to roll over your unused data to a second month, giving you a second chance to use it. However, not many networks offer this.

Spending caps

Three lets you apply a spending cap to your plan.

Set it to £0 and you won’t be able to spend anything outside your normal monthly plan cost – meaning things like international numbers, or roaming in places where it’s not free.

Set it to another level, such as £100, and you’ll only be able to spend that much each month. You can also choose not to have a spend cap.

Note that things like add-ons, insurance, and using Three Pay to buy digital content aren’t included in the cap.

Unlimited data

Three provides the option of unlimited data across its plans, including on Pay Monthly, SIM Only, Data Only and Pay As You Go. So you can choose an unlimited data plan and never worry about allowances again.

Three has no real fair usage policy in the UK either, though you’re limited to 12GB per month when roaming.

Family plans

Three doesn’t offer family plans, though you can get an existing customer discount if you add a second line or device to your plan. This isn’t a set discount, and it doesn’t apply to all plans. Rather the network has a rotating line-up of offers for existing customers.

Credit checks

Three will credit check you if you’re signing up for any kind of contract (so basically anything other than Pay As You Go). This however is in line with most networks, and these checks aren’t usually hard to pass, but it’s something to bear in mind if you have a poor credit rating.

Unique perks

One perk offered by Three is the Three+ app. This gives customers access to discounts and freebies from various brands, along with pre-sale festival tickets. It’s very similar to O2 Priority, just with a different selection of offers.

Beyond that, if you have a Value plan or a Complete plan then you’ll also be able to roam at no extra cost for a variable number of days (details of which can be found in the roaming section above).

Customers of these plans will also get access to Paramount+ as part of their contract, either for half the length of their plan (if on a Value plan) or the full length for Complete plans.


Three has won a large number of awards over the years, with recent examples including the uSwitch Best Network for Data Winner 2022, and the Fastest 5G Network award at the Ookla Speedtest Awards 2023.

In other words then, you should be in safe hands with Three, particularly if data and roaming are priorities for you.


Network speeds

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2023, and April 2020


Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)













While Three’s 4G coverage is superb and its 5G coverage seems better than many networks too, its speeds aren’t quite as impressive. According to Opensignal it offers average download speeds of 34.5Mbps, beaten by EE. Its average upload speed of 6.3Mbps meanwhile is third, and its average latency of 48.3ms is worse than all its main rivals.

Latency is a measurement of how long the network takes to respond to a request and it’s not normally noticeable, but can affect things like online gaming and anything else where a fraction of a second makes a difference.

Note that the latency figures in the chart above come from April 2020, while the others come from September 2023, as latency wasn’t included in the more recent reports. Note also that the speeds listed use a combination of all available network types (so 5G, 4G and 3G).

The good news is that if Three’s 5G service lives up to the network’s promises then it could soon be leading the pack in some places. Indeed, according to a RootMetrics report from late 2020, Three achieved 5G latency of just 17ms in central London, which is significantly better than any rival. However, a more recent Speedtest report put it at a slower but still reasonable 31ms.

Three’s 5G download speeds meanwhile average 205.5Mbps UK-wide according to a September 2023 report from Opensignal, which is a higher average than any rival, while a 2023 report from Speedtest found that Three's median 5G download speed was 226.27Mbps, and rated it the UK's fastest 5G network. That report also found that Three’s median 5G upload speed was the highest at 13.14Mbps.

And a RootMetrics report covering the second half of 2023 put Three’s median 5G download speed at 165.7Mbps, which is higher than any rival except EE. The same report found Three’s 95th percentile 5G download speed (so what you can expect in the fastest 5% of instances) was 853.4Mbps, which was higher than all rivals.

Traffic management

Three uses what it calls ‘TrafficSense’ for traffic management. In general, it’s not something you’ll notice or that will really affect you – indeed it’s designed to ensure users get the best data experience possible.

Three notes that “in times of high congestion or network issues, we might need to take steps such as rerouting bandwidth from quieter places to places with higher demand. It’s only to make sure things are running smoothly across our network.”

That said, when using your phone abroad, video may be delivered in standard definition, and the speed of P2P and VPN services may be reduced.

Network frequencies

Network Frequencies


Frequency Band



n29 4G & 5G


Band 20



Band 32 4G


Band 3



Band 1



n78 5G


n77 5G

Three uses the 800MHz, 1400MHz 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. 1400MHz is of course in between those two in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

Three also has some other spectrum in the 3.4GHz and 3.6-4GHz bands, however this is only currently used for 5G. In 2021 it acquired some 700MHz spectrum too, which could be leveraged for 4G, 5G, or both.

For more in depth information, check out our 4G and 5G frequencies guide, or check out the table above for a breakdown of Three’s frequency usage.

Customer service

Customer service can be hard to judge, but based on the evidence available it seems that Three may be around average in this area.

In an Ofcom customer service report from 2023, it was found that there was 83% satisfaction with service overall, 21% of customers had a reason to complain, and 50% of those who did complain were satisfied with the handling of their complaint.

The report also found that 9 of every 100,000 Three subscribers complained to Ofcom, which is slightly worse than the average. The only areas where Three did better than average were satisfaction with value for money, and call waiting times, which averaged just 47 seconds for Three, compared to a 2 minutes and 23 seconds average across networks.


Three's 4G coverage is comparable to rivals and the network has plenty of other benefits including unlimited data, good 5G performance, solid customer service, and competitively low prices, along with 5G at no extra cost.

It's the network to choose if you’re a heavy data user or put value for money first, but it has fewer extras than the likes of EE and Vodafone, and now that roaming is chargeable on many plans it no longer leads for roaming, which is a shame as it once did.


If you’re looking for an alternative to Three with the same coverage, then Smarty is a good option. This network is actually run by Three, but it’s significantly cheaper, while still offering things like 5G and unlimited data. However, its selection of plan types is smaller, with only SIM Only available, and it doesn’t have all Three’s extras like Three+.

There’s also iD Mobile, which isn’t run by three but does offer the same coverage. This too is typically affordable, and offers 5G and unlimited data plans. It also offers data rollover.

If on the other hand you want to stick with a major network, then consider EE, Vodafone or O2, all of which have their own network infrastructure. That means their coverage differs to Three’s, but depending on where you are they might have better coverage where you need it. They also offer a wide range of plans and extras.

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