A mobile network is only as good as its coverage and providing indoor coverage can be particularly tricky, as the signal needs to penetrate walls.
Despite that Three is in a strong position, with near comprehensive UK indoor coverage. Read on below to find out much coverage it has, how it’s achieved that figure, your options in locations where signal is limited and what the future holds for Three indoor coverage.
Three currently has indoor coverage for 92% of the UK population, which is a huge figure, almost rivalling its outdoor coverage, which stands at 98%.
It’s also increased rapidly, as back in June 2013 Three had just 80% indoor coverage. That increase is down in part to a general expansion of the network, particularly its ongoing 4G roll out, but the introduction of 800MHz spectrum and 4G Super-Voice were key contributors.
800MHz spectrum is lower frequency than the 1800MHz and 2100MHz spectrum Three was already using. Being lower frequency means it’s both longer range, allowing for easier coverage of large areas and, vitally, better at penetrating walls, which is of course essential for providing reliable indoor coverage.
Currently 800MHz spectrum is only used on 13% of Three’s network, but it’s clearly had a major impact already.
4G Super-Voice, which makes use of the 800MHz spectrum, has also helped plug coverage blackspots, particularly indoors. With 4G Super-Voice not only do more places have Three indoor coverage but they have superior call quality, as calls over 4G can transfer data faster than over 3G.
The best way to be sure of whether or not you have indoor coverage is to take a look at Three’s coverage checker here. Just enter your postcode and it will tell you what to expect, but you can also see a map of the entire UK, where dark red areas offer both indoor and outdoor coverage.
Given that 92% of UK residents have indoor coverage there’s a good chance you will, especially if you live in a town or city. Three doesn’t offer a complete list of locations with indoor coverage, but a subset of areas where you can expect fairly comprehensive indoor coverage includes:
London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Luton, Chelmsford, Croydon, Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke, Brighton, Bournemouth, Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, Norwich, Leicester, Derby, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Bradford, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Dundee, Aberdeen and Belfast.
Note though that even if you live in one of these locations it’s still worth sticking your postcode into Three’s coverage checker, as there are some blackspots. Even then it’s impossible to say exactly how good your indoor coverage will be at your home or office without trying it out, as the signal strength needed for it to pass through walls and windows varies from building to building.
The majority of indoor coverage is 3G. Three’s 4G coverage currently stands at over 63% of the UK (possibly well over as the figure hasn’t been updated in a while), but that’s talking about outdoor coverage).
Three’s coverage guide can tell you whether to expect indoor or just outdoor coverage though and as a starting point locations with 4G Super-Voice are likely to fare well indoors as signal carried by this can travel deeper inside buildings. That’s available to over 65% of the UK population in towns and cities including but not limited to:
Aberdeen, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Burnley, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chatham, Cheltenham, Colchester, Coventry, Derby, Dewsbury, Dundee, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hastings, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Preston, Reading, Sheffield, Slough, Southampton, Southend-on-Sea, Sunderland, Swindon, Telford, Torquay, Wigan and York.
If you don’t have much or any indoor signal on Three there’s a good chance you will soon – see below for full details on the future of Three indoor signal. In the meantime, there are ways to improve your situation, such as Home Signal and Three inTouch, both of which are also detailed below.
Home Signal is a box that you can request from Three if you don’t get a good signal indoors. Just plug it in to both your power supply and your router and it will automatically boost your Three signal as long as you keep your router on.
Out of the box it will only be configured to work with your phone, but you can add up to 32 different numbers to it and up to four can be in use at any one time. Best of all there’s no separate apps or complicated setup required, you just keep on texting and calling as normal. Home Signal is also usually free – just contact Three if you’re interested.
Three inTouch is another way to boost your Three signal indoors. It’s a free app available on iOS and Android, which allows you to call and text over Wi-Fi rather than the mobile network.
As you don’t need any additional hardware and can use it anywhere with Wi-Fi it’s simpler and more flexible than Home Signal, and like Home Signal you can keep on using your standard Three number – though you do need to use the app.
Three expects its indoor coverage to increase to 95% by the end of 2016. That would give an additional 4 million people access to its mobile network indoors.
Three hasn’t said much about its plans beyond that, but we know that it’s going to continue pushing ahead with 4G coverage and its indoor coverage is likely to increase alongside that, so don’t be surprised if within a few years 98% or more of UK residents can get Three inside – a figure which would rival current outdoor coverage.
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