Three network coverage checker

Dan Howdle | May 9th, 2023

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Three is somewhat of a pioneer in the UK mobile market. The first to push the now-dated 3G technology back in the early 2000s, and ever since a pioneer, being at the forefront of both 4G and 5G provision, the first to offer unlimited mobile data tariffs, and the first to offer permanent home broadband packages via its mobile network.

It should come as no surprise then that Three offers copious availability of its network across the UK, both for its mobile and SIM customers, and for a broader range of related products. In this guide we'll take a close look at Three coverage and availability, as well as an overview of Three's product range, and some tips and tricks for getting the best Three mobile reception.

Overview of Three mobile network coverage

Three is one of the UK's four mobile network providers, the others being O2, Vodafone and EE. Mobile network providers differ from regular providers in the sense they own and maintain their own mobile network, where other providers (known as MVNOs) piggyback, or borrow capacity from one of these four in order to offer their services. As such, Three coverage will be identical to the MVNOs that use its network. Right now, those other providers running on Three are Smarty, iD Mobile, FreedomPop and Superdrug Mobile.

Here's a quick overview of Three coverage across the UK:

Three Mobile 2G coverage 3G coverage 4G coverage 5G coverage
Coverage by population No longer available 98.7% (switching off in 2024) 99.8% 588 towns and cities

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Three's current coverage picture is a more mixed bag than other network providers. This is mainly because Three already switched off its 2G services, while its 3G services are due for the same treatment by the end of 2024. 4G coverage remains its strongest for now, with only 0.2% of the UK population unable to get it. 5G from Three continues to roll out across the UK, with the focus currently on towns and cities – 588 of them at the time of writing. If you live somewhere reasonably well populated, there's a good chance you can get 5G from Three.

For those unfamiliar with the technologies discussed here, here is a brief overview:

  • 2G: Stands for second generation, and refers to the second wave of mobile network technology after the initial analogue networks of the late eighties and nineties. It offered very, very slow data speeds, with a focus on voice and text services. Three discontinued 2G provision a number of years ago
  • 3G: Stands for third generation, and is a step up from 2G in terms of speed and capabilities. Three mobile is in the process of discontinuing 3G and it will be fully switched off before the end of 2024. 3G data speeds are slow, but just about enough for web browsing, using social media on your phone etc.
  • 4G: Stands for fourth generation, and is much faster than 3G. 4G networks theoretically provide speeds of up to 100Mbps, but most users won't get anything like that. With 4G, suddenly users have enough download speed to watch videos and other bandwidth-intensive applications
  • 5G: Stands for fifth generation, and is the latest mobile network technology. 5G networks offer even higher speeds than 4G. Three is on the process of rolling this out everywhere, but you will likely be waiting a long time to get it if you live somewhere rural or remote

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What does Three offer?

Three is both a provider and a network provider. That is to say it directly offers mobile deals, SIMs and so on, while also owning and running its own network. As such, Three offers a huge array of products and services that extend far beyond mobile phone contracts. Let's take a look at Three's broader offering.

  • Pay Monthly phones: Three provides a broad range of mobile phones from top-rated brands such as Apple, Samsung, and Xiaomi. With flexible contract terms, customers can choose the latest models or opt for more affordable ones to fit their budget
  • Pay As You Go phones: For customers who prefer pay-as-you-go options, Three offers a variety of phones with different features and prices to suit their needs. With no contract, customers have the freedom to switch between phones or plans as they please
  • SIM Only: For customers who already own a phone, Three provides SIM-only plans with varying data, call, and text allowances. Customers can choose from monthly or yearly contracts depending on their preference
  • Pay As You Go phone SIMs: Three also offers pay-as-you-go SIMs for customers who prefer more control over their spending. These SIMs are compatible with most phones and come with different data and call packages to fit customer needs
  • Data SIMs: For tablets, laptops, or other devices, Three provides data-only SIMs with varying data allowances all the way up to unlimited data. With flexible plans, customers can choose a data package that fits their needs and budget
  • Three Broadband (4G/5G home broadband): Three was the first in the UK to offer a home broadband service delivered via its mobile network in direct competition to traditional fixed-line broadband providers. Not only a good alternative option everyone should consider, but will also reach some homes where fixed-line provision is difficult or even impossible
  • Mobile Broadband: For customers who need internet access on the go, Three provides mobile broadband (MiFi) devices that can be used with laptops, tablets, or other devices
  • Tablets: Three offers a wide range of tablets from different brands, including iPads and Samsung Galaxy Tabs. With different sizes, storage options, and payment plans, customers can choose a tablet that fits their needs and budget
  • Laptops: Technically, Three doesn't offer laptops, but it does offer some laptop/tablet hybrids (laptops with a removable tablet for a screen, or tablets with a keyboard accessory, depending on which way you want to look at it)
  • Smartwatches: Three offers a range of smartwatches from popular brands such as Apple and Samsung that can be paired with a phone for a more convenient experience

How to get a better Three mobile signal

Mobile phone coverage maps are all well and good, but they often have great difficulty understanding how your mobile signal will fare indoors, or when surrounded by geographical obstacles such as buildings, hills, trees and so on.

If you're struggling to get a good signal from Three, here are some tips that may improve the situation:

  • Check your coverage: Before doing anything else, check your coverage using Three's online coverage checker. This will show you the strength of the signal in your area and any planned maintenance or outages that may be affecting your signal at the current time
  • Restart your phone: Sometimes a simple restart can help improve your signal. Turn your phone off and on again, or try putting it into airplane mode for a few seconds
  • Move to a different location: Your signal may be affected by obstacles such as buildings or trees. Try moving to a different location, ideally one with a clear line of sight to the nearest mobile mast
  • Use wifi calling: If you have a wifi connection, try using wifi calling to make and receive calls and texts. This can help improve your signal in areas with poor coverage
  • Use a signal booster: Signal boosters can help improve your signal in areas with poor coverage. You can buy signal boosters online or from a mobile phone shop
  • Contact Three: If you've tried all of the above and are still experiencing poor signal, contact Three customer service for further assistance. They may be able to offer additional tips or investigate any issues with your account or network

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See also

Frequently asked questions

Why am I experiencing poor Three network coverage in my area?

There are a few possible reasons for experiencing poor Three network coverage in your area. It could be due to a number of factors such as interference from other electronic devices, distance from the nearest phone mast, or geographical obstacles like hills and buildings. In some cases, the type of device you're using may also affect your signal strength.

How can I improve my Three network coverage at home?

To improve your Three network coverage at home, you can try using a signal booster or wifi calling. Three offers a Home Signal box, which uses your broadband connection to boost your mobile signal. You can also try resetting your device's network settings or contacting Three's customer service for further assistance.

Can I use wifi calling to improve my Three network coverage?

Yes, you can use wifi calling to improve your Three network coverage if you have a compatible device and access to a wifi network. Wifi calling enables you to make and receive calls and texts over a wifi network instead of the Three network. This can be useful if you're in an area with poor Three network coverage but have access to wifi.

What should I do if I'm still experiencing poor Three network coverage after trying these solutions?

If you're still experiencing poor Three network coverage after trying these solutions, you can contact Three's customer service for further assistance on 0333 338 1001. They may be able to troubleshoot the issue or provide alternative solutions, such as a network extender or a different device. If you're in an area with consistently poor network coverage, you may want to consider switching to a different mobile network provider.