Three’s 5G now covers 29% of the UK and is faster than rivals

4 August 2021

T^hree 5G coverage

Three’s 5G network has made big strides, as the company has announced that it now reaches 29% of the UK population outdoors. That means almost one in three people can now access 5G on Three where they live.

To get to that figure, Three has also switched 5G on in more than 110 more towns and cities, bringing the total number of covered locations up to over 300 – though note that as with all 5G networks, having coverage in a location doesn’t mean that it’s comprehensive. In some cases the 5G coverage will be patchy for now, but it’s sure to improve over time.

The new locations include Brimington, Denholme and Littlestone-on-Sea, among many others, and Three claims that it is bringing 5G to new locations every week. The network is also carrying out a programme to build more than 2,500 new 5G sites, with the first of those already online. This will help improve capacity and speeds so that the network can keep up with ever-growing data demands, with the average Three customer now using 17GB per month.

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Fast downloads, but uploads need work

But it seems like Three’s 5G network could already be very fast, as Ookla has found it to be the UK’s fastest 5G network in the first half of 2021, with the network achieving a median 5G download speed of 231Mbps. For reference, Vodafone achieved 159Mbps, O2 managed 155Mbps, and EE came in at 151Mbps.

Three also recorded the fastest speeds in Birmingham, Manchester and London, though its median 5G upload speed across the UK was found to be the second worst at 13.65Mbps (with Vodafone winning at 19.69Mbps), and Three’s median latency was the worst at 33ms, with Vodafone and EE tying for the lead at 29ms.

Three claims that this is just the beginning though, with its recently acquired 700MHz spectrum set to improve things further, particularly in terms of indoor coverage. The network is also enhancing the configuration of its radio sites across the UK, and is working to improve latency and reliability by moving the contents of its network to the edge.

So Three’s lacking latency could soon be improved, and aside from that and its upload speeds, everything here is very promising.

Editorial Manager

James has been writing for us for over 10 years. Currently, he is Editorial Manager for our group of companies (, and and sub-editor at TechRadar. He specialises in smartphones, mobile networks/ technology, tablets, and wearables.

In the past, James has also written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media, Smart TV Radar, and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV. He has a film studies degree from the University of Kent, Canterbury, and has over a decade’s worth of professional writing experience.

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