Three offers 99% population coverage on their 3G & 4G network, with Three’s 5G coverage due to launch in August 2019.
In the UK, Three offers 99% population coverage on their 3G and 4G mobile network. It’s possible to access Category 6 LTE download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s, with average download speeds of about 30Mbit/s.
In the second half of 2019, 5G coverage will launch on the Three network in 25 towns and cities across the UK. London will be the first city to get 5G coverage, with a launch expected in August 2019. Three reckons its 5G network will be twice as fast as rival networks, meaning average download speeds should clock in at around 300-400Mbit/s.
In this article, find out how to check the Three coverage in your area and about the different types of coverage available on Three. We’ll also discuss the upcoming launch of Three’s 5G network, coverage on their home broadband service and international coverage when you’re travelling abroad.
Three Coverage Checker
If you’d like to check the coverage from Three in your area, Three provides an online coverage map where you can enter your postcode to get an estimate of the coverage.
Before signing up for a new tariff from Three, we’d strongly recommending using this to check the coverage where you live. You’ll need to enter your postcode on their site (along with the name of your device for more accurate results).
Three’s online coverage map will show you the level of 3G and 4G coverage on separate tabs. If possible, entering the name of your device will also help to give more accurate results as some types of coverage will only work on certain devices.
For more information, read on to find out more about the different types of network coverage on Three. You can also read about Three’s upcoming 5G service, their home broadband offering and international coverage whilst you’re abroad in other countries.
In the UK, Three offers 3G and 4G mobile coverage. In addition, 5G coverage will be launching from August 2019 onwards. Customers who have a compatible smartphone can also access 4G Super-Voice (also known as 4G Calling) and Wi-Fi Calling services on Three.
Notably, Three is the only UK mobile network not to offer any 2G coverage. For most people, this shouldn’t make a big difference, unless you have an older 2G-only phone which will not work on Three’s network. In addition, some dual-SIM smartphones will not function properly on Three if the secondary SIM card slot only supports 2G coverage.
Three was the UK’s first mobile network to launch 3G coverage, all the way back on the 3rd March 2003. Over the past 16 years, the network has grown from humble beginnings to now covering 98.7% of the UK’s population on 3G.
Today, Three’s 3G mobile network is used to carry phone calls, text messages and data. Normally, your mobile phone will only connect to 3G when 4G coverage isn’t available in your area. However, some mobile phones will drop back to 3G coverage when you’re making or receiving a phone call without 4G Super-Voice or Wi-Fi Calling. For this reason, it’s still best to live in an area where you can get both 3G and 4G coverage.
Three’s 3G network uses 2100MHz spectrum. With 3G coverage, it’s possible to access download speeds of up to 42Mbit/s using dual-carrier HSPA+ technology.
Three launched their 4G mobile network in December 2013. Nowadays, it’s the most common type of coverage in use, offering Category 6 LTE download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s. In practice, however, actual download speeds are normally closer to around 30Mbit/s.
At the time of writing, Three says their 4G network covers 99.8% of the UK’s population.
Three’s 4G network primarily uses band 3 (1800MHz) spectrum. In areas where the 4G Super-Voice service has been switched on, 4G coverage is also available on compatible devices using band 20 (800MHz) spectrum. In some areas, older 3G spectrum has also been upgraded to 4G, giving additional 4G coverage in band 1 (2100MHz).
4G Super-Voice & Wi-Fi Calling
Both 4G Super-Voice and Wi-Fi Calling are designed to improve indoor coverage when you make and receive phone calls. 4G Super-Voice uses lower frequency 800MHz spectrum which travels further inside of buildings. Meanwhile, Wi-Fi Calling allows you to make and receive phone calls whenever you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.
At the time of writing, 4G Super-Voice and Wi-Fi Calling are available on the iPhone 6 and newer. It will also work on selected Android smartphones, as long as you purchased your mobile phone directly from Three:
- Apple: iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE
- Huawei: Huawei Honor 6X, Huawei Honor 9, Huawei P10, Huawei P10 Plus, Huawei P9, Huawei Mate 9, Huawei Mate 10 Pro
- LG: LG G6, LG G5, LG G4 Compact, LG G4, LG Spirit 4G, LG Stylus 3, K3
- HTC: HTC 10
- Lenovo: Lenovo P2
- Razer: Razer Phone
- Microsoft: Nokia Lumia 550
- Motorola: Moto G 4G 3rd Gen, Moto E4 Plus
- Samsung: Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy S7, Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, Samsung S5 Neo, Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung Galaxy A5 2017, Samsung Galaxy J3 2016, Samsung J3 2017, Samsung Galaxy A3 2017, Samsung Galaxy A3 2016, Samsung Galaxy Note 4
- Sony: Sony Xperia Z5, Sony Xperia Z5 Compact, Sony Xperia X, Sony Xperia XA, Sony Xperia XZ Premium, Sony Xperia XZ
- ZTE: ZTE Blade V7, ZTE Blade V8
For more information, see the pages on Three’s website about 4G Super-Voice and Wi-Fi Calling. Previously, Wi-Fi Calling on Three was known as inTouch so you may still see the inTouch brand name being used in some places.
Three 5G Coverage
Three will be launching 5G coverage in 25 towns and cities by the end of 2019. London will be the first in line for Three’s 5G mobile network, with the service due to go live in August 2019.
5G coverage will then follow shortly afterwards in other towns and cities across the UK:
|Now Live||1 towns and cities are live on Three 5G (October 2019)|
|24 towns and cities planned|
Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, Wolverhampton (End of 2019)
According to Three, they’ll have the fastest 5G mobile network by some distance when it goes live in the UK in August 2019.
Out of the four network coverage providers, Three has a largest amount of usable 5G spectrum. This is important for transmitting data and delivering higher speeds on the 5G network. In total, Three has 140MHz of 5G spectrum, compared to just 50MHz for Vodafone and 40MHz for EE and O2. A single 5G carrier of 100MHz will be offered by Three, giving download speeds that are about twice as fast as on other UK mobile networks.
In addition to having more 5G spectrum than other UK mobile networks, Three has launched a fully virtualised cloud-core network, multiple distributed edge data centres and next-generation radio access technology (64T64R Massive MIMO technology). It says this should enable better 5G performance, along with other benefits like reduced latency and better network reliability.
In November 2018, Three demonstrated download speeds of 2Gbit/s (2,000Mbit/s) on their prototype 5G network. It’s still yet to be confirmed what the speeds will be like on Three’s commercial 5G network, but we’re expecting average speeds of around 300-400Mbit/s, given the claims it should be twice as fast as the 5G mobile networks from EE and Vodafone.
For more information, see the page on Three’s website about their upcoming 5G network. Alternatively, see our guide to the city-by-city rollout of 5G in the UK.
Three Home Broadband Coverage
Three has offered 4G home broadband since February 2019, with a choice of either the HomeFi or the AI Cube router. Designed as an alternative to fixed-line broadband services, Three’s home broadband service isn’t restricted by the speeds you can get through a BT phone line or a Virgin Media cable connection. This makes it perfect for users in both urban and rural areas, with it being possible to get online straight away without the need for an engineer visit and installation.
The coverage level for Three’s home broadband service is the same as the coverage level for Three’s mobile phone service. Both services use the same underlying 3G and 4G mobile network with 99.8% population coverage. With a 4G antenna on the HomeFi, you may even be able to pick up a 4G home broadband signal in places where you can’t normally get a mobile phone signal.
Three will be launching a 5G home broadband service in August 2019, initially to customers who are living in London. It’s expected this will be powered by the HTC 5G Hub router (currently available to customers on EE).
For customers travelling to one of 71 destinations (including most European countries, the USA, Australia and more), the Go Roam offer allows you to use your mobile phone at no extra charge. This is available both to customers on Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go.
If you’re travelling to a country that isn’t part of Go Roam, additional charges will apply for your usage when abroad. In some countries, the £5/day Data Passport add-on will give you an unlimited data allowance at cheaper than standard international roaming rates (Azerbaijan, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates).
In general, international roaming on Three is normally limited to 3G speeds. 4G roaming launched in a couple of countries in 2018, though Three hasn’t provided a list of countries where this is available.
Please see Three’s official website for more information about their network and about the coverage available where you live.