Three 5G coverage checker

Three 5G is available in parts of 194 towns and cities across the UK at the time of writing. That’s up from the 66 that it initially launched 5G in during late February of 2020.

This all followed a 5G home broadband launch in parts of London on 19th August 2019, and while Three was later to bring 5G to mobile than the other major networks, it hit the ground running with coverage in more places than most rivals.

It’s worth noting that the places with Three 5G won’t yet have complete coverage, but that’s set to improve over time. Three also plans on building the UK's fastest 5G network, based on the fact that it has the largest amount of 5G frequency spectrum of any of the UK's mobile operators.

Below we’ve detailed Three’s 5G network in full, including a list of the key places it’s available, and a comparison to the UK’s other 5G networks.

Three 5G Summary

Three 5G summary chart

Three 5G coverage

194 UK towns & cities

Coverage checker

Check Three coverage

Network speeds (average download speeds)

5G - 158.7Mbps (Point Topic)

4G - 22.2Mbps  (Opensignal)

Three 4G and 3G coverage

99.8% population coverage

5G phones

5G phones on Three

5G home broadband

5G home broadband on Three

5G SIM only

5G SIM only on Three

How does Three's 5G coverage compare to others?

We’re tracking 120 major towns and cities in the UK for 5G coverage, and the four major 5G networks stack up as follows:

  • O2 has launched 5G in 72 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Three has launched 5G in 67 of the 120 locations below. 
  • EE has launched 5G in 75 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Vodafone has launched 5G in 44 of the 120 locations below. 

As noted above though, coverage isn’t yet comprehensive, so a tick against a location in the chart below just means a network has some 5G coverage there. As such, you should always use a network’s official coverage checker before buying a 5G plan.

Indoor and outdoor 5G coverage will also often differ – in other words, just because there’s outdoor 5G coverage, it doesn’t mean the signal will necessarily make it into buildings. But 5G coverage will get better over time, both inside and out.

Town/City

EE

+BT

Vodafone

+ASDA +VOXI +Virgin Mobile

Three

+ iD Mobile

O2

+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff

Aberdeen

Bath

Birmingham

Blackburn

Blackpool

Bolton

Bournemouth

Bradford

Brighton

Bristol

Bromley

Cambridge

Canterbury

Cardiff

Carlisle

Central London

Chelmsford

Chester

Cleveland

Colchester

Coventry

Crewe

Croydon

Darlington

Dartford

Derby

Doncaster

Dorchester

Dudley

Dumfries and Galloway

Dundee

Durham

East London

Edinburgh

Enfield

Exeter

Falkirk and Stirling

Galashiels

Glasgow

Gloucester

Guildford

Halifax

Harrogate

Harrow

Hemel Hempstead

Hereford

Huddersfield

Hull

Ilford

Inverness

Ipswich

Kilmarnock

Kingston upon Thames

Kirkcaldy

Kirkwall

Lancaster

Leeds

Leicester

Lerwick

Lincoln

Liverpool

Llandrindod Wells

Llandudno

Luton

Manchester

Milton Keynes

Motherwell

Newcastle upon Tyne

Newport

North London

North West London

Northampton

Northern Ireland

Norwich

Nottingham

Oldham

Outer Hebrides

Oxford

Paisley

Perth

Peterborough

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Preston

Reading

Redhill

Rochester

Romford

Salisbury

Sheffield

Shrewsbury

Slough

South East London

South West London

Southall

Southampton

Southend-on-Sea

St Albans

Stevenage

Stockport

Stoke-on-Trent

Sunderland

Sutton

Swansea

Swindon

Taunton

Telford

Tonbridge

Torquay

Truro

Twickenham

Wakefield

Walsall

Warrington

Watford

West London

Wigan

Wolverhampton

Worcester

York

Latest locations to get Three 5G

The most recent places that Three has brought 5G to (as of 25/03/2021) include Ashford, Belfast International Airport (Aldergrove), Birdwell, Bishopthorpe, Brentwood, Campton, Carlisle, Chorley, Coedkernew, Delph, Dinnington, East Midlands Airport, Egginton, Falkirk, Gateshead, Hatfield, Heywood, Isle of Grain, Kinmel Bay, Kirknewton, Knowl Wall, Loughborough, Margate, Marston Moretaine, Merthyr Tydfil, Middlesbrough, Milnrow, Newark-on-Trent, Newtonabbey, Pontefract, Redditch, Scunthorpe, Shrewsbury, South Kirkby, South Ockendon, Stafford, Stansted Airport, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swinton, Ullesthorpe, and Wallingford.

Three coverage checker

Three's coverage checker shows 5G, 4G and 3G coverage in all places across the UK, broken down by indoor and outdoor coverage, so you should be able to get a clear picture of Three’s 5G coverage in your area, and it’s worth checking, because coverage isn’t comprehensive even in places that have some 5G.

Check Three 5G coverage

4G coverage

If you don’t have 5G in your area, then you will need to rely on 4G coverage. The good news with Three is that all its SIM plans are 5G ready at no extra cost, so when 5G does become available in your area you'll be able to access it without needing to pay extra or order a new SIM.

Three has around 99.8% UK population coverage with 4G, along with roughly 98.7% 3G coverage. That’s largely comparable with rivals as you can see in the 4G coverage comparison below.

5G networks 4G population coverage (2021)

EE

(+BT)

>99%

Check Coverage

Three

(+ iD Mobile)

>99%

Check Coverage

Vodafone

(+VOXI +Virgin Mobile +Asda)

>99%

Check Coverage

O2

(+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff)

>99%

Check Coverage

5G roaming abroad

Three doesn’t offer 5G roaming at the time of writing, but it’s not alone in that, as only Vodafone and VOXI do. That said, you can roam at 4G or 3G speeds at no extra cost in 71 destinations.

5G network speeds

Average 5G download speed

Median 5G download speed

Max 5G download speed

158.7Mbps (Point Topic)

122 /201.12Mbps (Point Topic/Speedtest)

478.1Mbps (RootMetrics)

Going by September 2020 data from Point Topic, Three has an average UK 5G download speed of 158.7Mbps. The same tests found that its median 5G download speed was 122Mbps, and its maximum 5G download speed was 473Mbps – most of those speeds are UK-wide, but the maximum was recorded in Walsall. It’s worth noting that RootMetrics also recorded a maximum speed of 478.1Mbps in Liverpool – so that’s a similar but slightly higher result.

Elsewhere, Speedtest data from Q3 2020 reported that Three had a median 5G download speed of 201.12Mbps, which is rather higher than the median from Point Topic.

It’s worth noting that Three itself has said that it expects to offer peak 5G speeds that are twice as fast as any rival in the coming years.

Given that Vodafone claims users could see peak speeds that exceed 1Gbps, that could mean Three’s network can exceed 2Gbps. According to Three that's made possible due to the network having more ‘5G spectrum’ than its rivals and more importantly being the only mobile network with 100MHz of contiguous spectrum, which is the amount the ITU (the global standards body on 5G technology) state is required for ‘true’ 5G.

That would make for a massive boost on the operator's 4G download speeds, which according to data from Opensignal average 22.2Mbps, while peak real world 4G speeds on the network are unlikely to exceed 100Mbps most of the time.

Latency

Latency – measured in milliseconds (ms) - is how long the mobile network takes to respond to a request. A high latency can make things feel sluggish to respond even if download speeds are high, but the good news is that with 5G, latency could ultimately be as low as around 1ms. That’s compared to around 30-50ms on 4G, although current 5G networks deliver average latency of between around 21-26ms according to Ookla.

Three’s looks to be better than that in at least some places though, as a RootMetrics report found that in central London its 5G latency was just 17ms – which is far lower than rivals managed in the same tests.

Three’s 5G frequency allocation

Frequency

Network type

3.6-4GHz (3600-4000MHz)

5G

3.4GHz (3400MHz)

5G

2.1GHz (2100MHz)

3G

1.8GHz (1800MHz)

4G

1.4GHz (1400MHz)

4G

800MHz

4G

700MHz

5G

Three currently uses 3.6-4GHz and 3.4GHz frequency spectrum for 5G, as the chart above shows. It’s this that carries the signal between masts and phones, and as you might have noticed, Three uses higher frequency spectrum for 5G than for 4G.

That’s because it’s available in greater capacity than lower frequency spectrum, which is necessary for connecting larger numbers of devices and dealing with greater data demands, while keeping speeds high and consistent.

That’s vital for 5G, but higher frequencies have drawbacks too, being shorter range and less effective at passing through buildings and other obstacles than lower frequencies like those Three uses for 4G.

However, some of those lower frequencies could be used to help improve these weaknesses of 5G networks too, with the 700MHz band (20MHz of which Three acquired at the second 5G spectrum auction) having been identified as a prime candidate for that.

In terms of Three’s 5G spectrum holdings, it has 140MHz in all, or 160MHz if you count the 700MHz spectrum that it might also use for 5G purposes. EE meanwhile has 80MHz (or 120MHz with the 700MHz band included), O2 has 80MHz / 100MHz, and Vodafone has 90MHz.

So Three has more 5G spectrum than any other UK network, as well as being the only one with 100MHz of contiguous 5G spectrum, which is an ideal amount for a 5G network

Looking ahead, Three and the other networks may at some point increase their 5G spectrum holdings too, as there may be additional spectrum auctioned off, such as some in the 26GHz and 8GHz bands.

Networks that have launched 5G in the UK

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