Whether 4G or 3G you’ll almost certainly have Three coverage of some kind if you live in the UK, but some places have access to higher speeds than others. Here’s everything you need to know about what 3G and 4G coverage Three has, how to check if you have coverage and what the future holds for Three’s network coverage.
How much of the UK has 4G coverage from Three?
4G from Three currently reaches well over 63% of the UK population, accounting for most major towns and cities as well as many smaller and more rural areas.
Which towns and cities have Three 4G?
Major towns and cities with partial or full 4G coverage from Three include but are not limited to: 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.
With 4G coverage for well over half the UK population the complete list of locations with Three 4G will number in the thousands and if you live in a city or major town chance are you'll have coverage, but many smaller communities and rural areas have Three 4G too.
What about 3G?
Three’s 3G network currently covers over 97% of the UK population, so even if you can’t get 4G you’re very likely to be able to get some sort of mobile data. Better yet over 80% of the UK population can access Advanced 3G speeds which are faster than any rival network’s 3G technology. 98% of the UK population can get either 3G or 4G when outdoors and over 80% of the population can also get either 3G or 4G indoors.
How do I check whether there’s coverage in my area?
Just head over to Three’s coverage checker here and enter your postcode to see whether you have coverage. You can see both 3G and 4G coverage, indoors and outdoors, anywhere in the UK.
What are Three’s future coverage plans?
Three aims to bring 4G to 98% of the UK population as soon as possible. So even if you don’t have 4G coverage from Three yet you likely will soon. In fact, we’d expect to see comprehensive coverage by late 2017 as the network is increasing its coverage rapidly.
What comes after 4G?
Three isn’t likely to slow down once it’s brought widespread 4G coverage to the UK. Already it’s rolling out extra services like VoLTE, dubbed Three 4G Super-Voice, allowing users to call and text over 4G. In doing so it fills in rural and indoor coverage blackspots and allows for clearer calls.
That service is currently available to over 65% of the UK population and as with standard 4G its Super-Voice coverage is increasing all the time. That's a huge win for Three, as no other UK network currently offers a VoLTE service.
The network is also upgrading its speeds and infrastructure, with a 50% 4G speed boost now coming nationwide. Looking further ahead we may get even faster LTE-A and Three is sure to upgrade its network to 5G in the more distant future, which should be dramatically faster and is likely to start appearing from around 2020.
What affects Three’s signal and coverage?
To have coverage from Three the network needs masts and other infrastructure in the area and to have 4G coverage that infrastructure needs to be upgraded, which is why rolling it out is a slow process.
But even once the infrastructure is in place signal can be variable due to your distance from a mast, the number of other people in the area trying to access 3G or 4G, extreme weather conditions and obstacles such as thick walls, which is also why indoor and outdoor coverage can often vary.
Three’s coverage checker aims to account for differences in indoor and outdoor coverage but ultimately the only way you can know for sure whether you’ll have coverage in a specific spot and how fast it will be is to try and use your mobile device there.
What if I’m somewhere without 4G coverage?
If you don’t have 4G then chances are you at least have 3G and quite possibly even Advanced 3G, as outlined above. As Three doesn’t charge extra for 4G you’ll be paying the same whatever speeds you get and the good news is that even if there’s no 4G somewhere now there likely will be before long, as Three aims to bring superfast 4G data to the vast majority of the UK population.
What if I don’t have any coverage?
If you live or work somewhere with no Three coverage of any kind then, well, you probably don’t want to be on Three. But thankfully those places are few and far between. If you happen to find yourself in one then you can make use of inTouch, which is a Three app that allows you to call and text over Wi-Fi using your normal phone number, so as long as there’s a Wi-Fi network available you can keep on talking and texting.
What type of 4G does Three use?
Three currently just uses 4G in the 800MHz and 1.8GHz bands. The only other band used by any mobile networks in the UK for 4G is 2.6GHz, which works well over shorter distances and in congested areas, however 800MHz and to a lesser extent 1.8GHz are longer range and better able to penetrate walls. The key thing to know though is that in practice you can expect high speeds and good coverage from Three's 4G network.
What type of 3G and 2G does Three use?
Three uses the 2.1GHz frequency for 3G, which is shorter range but higher capacity than the bands it uses for 4G. There's no 2G service widely available on Three, so you'll need a handset that's capable of at least 3G, but fortunately the vast majority are these days. Given Three's very high speed and widely available 3G network you can expect a great experience even if you don't have a 4G device.
How fast is Three's 4G and 3G network and are the speeds consistent?
Three's standard 4G it’s capable of speeds up to around five times faster than standard 3G, averaging roughly 14Mbps. That’s plenty fast enough to stream music and videos, browse the web without holdup and download files quickly.
But as speedy as Three's standard 4G is, in many areas speeds are now up to 50% faster, as Three is rolling out additional spectrum. The network doesn't keep an up to date list of exactly where these faster speeds are offered, but major cities and many other towns and communities now have the speed boost.
Three also offers Advanced 3G, sometimes referred to as Ultrafast, with speeds of up to 12Mbps, so even where 4G isn’t available you’ll still be able to get very fast data.
Exact speeds on offer will vary depending on your device, how close you are to a mast, how many other people are trying to connect to the mast and more. So even on 4G speeds will vary by location and potentially even day to day, but you should consistently be able to get far higher speeds than are offered by standard 3G.