If you’re looking for a SIM to use in your SimRush device, you might be interested to know what coverage and performance is like from the main SIM carriers. We’ll be taking a detailed look into the coverage of the major networks: Three, Vodafone, O2 and EE.
We’re starting with Three’s network
Three is one of the largest network providers in the UK, and they offer some of the best coverage around. In this blog post, we will take a look at Three’s network coverage in detail.
We will discuss how widespread their coverage is, what areas they have 4G and 3G coverage and what areas they have 5G coverage. We will also compare their coverage to that of other network providers such as O2, Vodafone and EE.
Three Network: What you need to know
Three offers both voice and data services, and their 4G network currently covers around 99% of the UK population. Three has been in operation since 2003 when they launched the UK’s first 3G only network. In fact, Three have been pioneers for quite a few mobile data developments that we now take for granted.
For example, they were the first network to offer unlimited data plans to their customers in 2010. Three was also the first network to launch a nationwide rollout of their now ubiquitous ‘Feel at Home’ roaming service, which allows customers to use their phones abroad at no extra cost. Want to know what else Three was the first to do? Read a full list here.
3 Network Coverage
Three’s mobile network coverage is extensive, with their 3G & 4G coverage reaching over 99% of the UK population. They have extensive mobile coverage in major cities and towns, as well as good coverage in many rural areas too.
It’s handy to note that Three don’t have a 2G network anymore (unlike O2, Vodafone and EE) so if there is no 3G in your area will you get no mobile coverage at all.
As you can imagine with such extensive 4G mobile population coverage, you can get 4G from Three in the majority of towns and cities across the UK. Some examples include:
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.
Three are currently carrying out a project called ‘The Big Network Build’ which has been designed to improve their own network infrastructure. The end goal of the project is bring their existing customers faster speeds and better coverage across their 4G and 5G networks.
Three was one of the first networks to launch a nationwide rollout of their new, faster ‘fifth generation’ (or ‘next-generation’) network in August 2019.
Three’s current mobile coverage for their new high-speed network stands at around 50% of the UK population. Or in other words around 300 locations across the UK. Examples include:
Aberdeen, Billericay, Billingham, Birdwell, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bishopthorpe, Blackburn, Blackpool, Borehamwood, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brentwood, Brighton, Brimington, Bristol, Cardiff, Carlisle, Castlereagh, Chatham, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Coventry, Doncaster, Dundee, East Kilbride, East Midlands Airport, Edinburgh, Ellesmere Port, Exmouth, Falkirk, Gateshead, Glasgow, Gorebridge, Grays, Greenock, Grimsby, Guildford, Hamilton, Hartley, Leeds, Leicester, Leyland, Lincoln, Liverpool, London, Loughborough, Lower Stondon, Luton, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Manchester, Mansfield, Margate, Marlow Bottom, Marston Moretaine, Merthyr Tydfil, Metropolitan Newtownabbey, Middlesbrough, Milnrow, Milton Keynes, Motherwell.
For a more comprehensive list of places with 4G & 5G mobile coverage from Three go here.
Three’s extensive rollout of their new network means that they are likely to have the best coverage of any UK network when it comes to fifth generation services.
The RootMetrics report in 2021 suggested that Three’s 5G network had significantly expanded and improved since 2020 in nearly every city they tested in.
Comparing Three’s 4G Coverage to Other Networks
When compared to other networks, Three’s coverage holds up well.
When compared with another mobile network giant such as EE, Three’s 4G network mobile coverage can match EE in terms of population coverage.
However, when it comes to geographical coverage, generally speaking Three does not have the same level of coverage as EE in rural locations. This is particularly true when considering more remote villages and areas of the countryside which Three mobile does not cover as extensively compared to EE.
Comparing Three’s 5G Coverage to Other Networks
In terms of 5G population coverage, it’s harder to compare because the network is so new. As of right now, Three is beating EE in numbers, having declared more locations now have access to some level of 5G coverage.
However, it’s thought that EE only declares an area to have 5G coverage when over 50% of that place is covered. Whereas, Three may well be announcing locations to have 5G with less % of that area actually having 5G coverage.
The 5G rollout from both networks is constantly developing and we won’t know a true comparison of 5G coverage until 5G has become truly widespread.
Three’s network is generally very fast, with their customers able to enjoy speeds of up to 300Mbps in some cities. However, speeds obviously vary depending on your location and signal strength. If you are in central London, you can expect to see a much higher speed compared to if you are in the remote hills of Scotland.
In OpenSignal’s April 2021 Mobile Experience report, the average download speed for Three was 19.3 Mbps and the average upload speed was 6.8Mbps in the same report.
While Three’s 5G coverage is the most widespread, it does not necessarily offer the fastest data download speeds.
According to OpenSignal’s 2021 5G User Experience report Three’s average 5G download speed was 115.9 Mbps and average 5G upload speed was 12.7 Mbps.
Comparing Three’s 4G speed to other networks
In terms of 4G speed, Three was ranked 3rd for 4G average download speeds when compared to EE, O2 and Vodafone. EE was ranked the highest, with Vodafone in second. Three was also ranked 3rd for 4G upload speeds, again only beating O2 who were ranked in 4th.
Comparing Three’s 5G speed to other networks
For 5G speeds, it is a similar story for Three. They are again ranked 3rd for 5G download speeds. EE also take top prize in this category but with O2 in second and Vodafone in 4th. For 5G upload speeds, Three is in 3rd place again with EE first. However, for this category Vodafone takes the second spot with O2 in 4th.
Overall, according to OpenSignal’s findings Three come out as the third fastest major network provider for upload and download speeds.
The RootMetrics report from 2021 found that whilst Three did not have the most impressive top speeds on their 5G network they do have the most speedy mid-band spectrum of any operator. They suggested that this could mean much faster 5G download speeds in the future for Three network users. Read the full report here.
Best value network
In terms of value for money, Three are often praised as offering some of the best deals on the market compared to other mobile networks. This is particularly true when you compare deals and prices to other networks such as EE and Vodafone who tend to be more expensive.
Three also offer a number of perks that come with their plans which can make them even better value for money. For example, their Go Roam service allows customers to use their phones in over 70 destinations at no extra cost. This free roaming is a great perk for anyone who often travels abroad or has family overseas. They also offer unlimited data plans just like most networks.
Three don’t offer a data rollover service. This service means that if you have any unused data at the end of your billing month, it will be carried over to the next month.
This is a great way to make sure you’re not wasting any of your data allowance and is a great perk if you often find yourself needing more data towards the end of the month. It’s an ideal alternative if you aren’t willing to pay for unlimited data.
Unfortunately, Three is yet to introduce this feature to their SIM only deals.
Mobile Choice Consumer awards
Three was voted the Best Network for Data at the Mobile Choice Consumer Awards, as well as Best Network for Roaming at the 2022 uSwitch mobile awards.
Three have also picked up the Best High Street Retailer at the Mobile Industry Awards.
How to check my coverage
If you want to check what coverage Three offers in your specific location, you can use their online coverage checker. Simply enter your postcode into the checker and it will bring up a coverage map that will tell you what level of indoor and outdoor coverage you can expect in that area.
The checker also gives you the opportunity to tell it what device you are using such as whether it’s an iPhone or android phone.
Please find Three’s coverage checker here: Check your network coverage | Three
Three Mobile App
You can also download the My Three app, which will show you a map of Three’s coverage in your area. The app will also allow you to view your usage, manage your account and contact customer services if you have a Three account.
If you want to check the coverage map of another network such as EE, or Vodafone, you can use their online coverage checkers. These checkers work in a similar way to Three’s, and will tell you what level of coverage you can expect in your specific location for each generation of mobile technology.
You can also use cell mapper to find out where your nearest mast is from any network provider. You can use this tool to identify if there are long distances between you and a carrier’s cell mast which may impact your performance and signal strength.
How to check my network status
If you want to check the status of the Three network in your area, you can navigate to the Three coverage checker. All you have to do is click the network status button underneath the button which says ‘search coverage’. You will then be asked to enter your postcode.
The network status checker will then tell you if there are any signal problems in your area and if available, it will give you a resolution time and date. It will tell you when the message was last updated to give you an idea of how recent the problems are in your area.
What to do if you’re not happy with your coverage
If you’re not happy with the level of coverage Three offers in your area, there are a few things you can do.
- Firstly, you could try and improve your signal by using a signal booster. A signal booster can be placed in your home or office, and it will amplify Three’s signal in that specific location.
- Another option is to use a Three InTouch app. This app allows you to make and receive calls over Wi-Fi, even if you have a poor signal. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices, and it’s free to download from the App Store or Google Play Store.
- If you’re still not happy with your coverage, you can contact Three directly and speak to a customer service representative. They will be able to advise you on what options are available to you, and they may be able to offer you a different tariff that is more suited to your needs.
- Switch to another network and take out a new contract. Research what monthly plans are offered by Three’s rivals and investigate the 5G 4G and 3G coverage in your area. Make sure to pay attention to whether there is outdoor coverage and indoor coverage in your area, particularly if you are looking for a SIM to use in your broadband equipment.
In conclusion, Three is a good option if you’re looking for a mobile network with good coverage.
They have extensive coverage in major cities and towns, as well as good coverage in many rural areas. Their new nationwide rollout of their fifth generation network means that they are likely to have the best coverage of any UK network when it comes to fifth generation services.
In terms of speeds, Three can offer you fast speeds particularly if you are located in one of their 5G coverage locations. However, it is not the fastest network out there, coming out as third fastest overall.