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Three UK Sees 5G Mobile Broadband Coverage Reach 29 Percent UPDATE

Monday, August 2nd, 2021 (11:16 am) - Score 7,080
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Three UK has today revealed that their new 5G (mobile broadband) network has just gone live in another 110 locations across the United Kingdom (300 in total), which they claim has pushed their “outdoor population coverage” (not geographic) to 29%. The current rollout plan aims to reach 2,500 new sites over the next few years.

The operator’s new 5G network first started to go live in August 2019, although its availability was initially restricted to central London and the only way to use it was via their dedicated unlimited Three Home Broadband service. The network finally began to include regular 5G mobile (Smartphone) services in February 2020 (here) and they’ve been busy deploying ever since.

NOTE: Going LIVE with 5G is not the same as achieving total coverage of an area – it can still take many months, or even years, to fully cover a city etc.

Sadly, Three UK has not supplied a full list of the new locations for their 5G services, but we are told that it includes a number of rural and coastal spots, such as Brimington, Denholme and Littlestone-on-Sea.

The operator is also fairly well positioned for 5G because they could previously harness a total of 140MHz (frequency) across several related radio spectrum bands. One of those includes a 100MHz block of contiguous spectrum in the 3.4-3.8GHz band (here), which is known to be the sweet spot for 5G. On top of that, they recently bagged an extra 20MHz of frequency in the 700MHz band for £280m from Ofcom (here).

More spectrum tends to result in better mobile broadband speeds, at least it doesn’t when deployed properly and with enough backhaul capacity. On this point the operator says they’re “delighted to announce that our continued investment in network technology is paying off for our customers with recognition from Ookla that we are the UK’s Fastest 5G network in Q1-Q2 2021. In addition, we have also been recognised as fastest in Birmingham, Manchester and London.”

David Hennessy, Chief Technology Officer at Three UK, said:

“Keeping our customers at the forefront of every decision we make is why we have continued to invest in our network and IT infrastructure. As we all navigate through uncertain times, our commitment to the expansion of our 5G and 4G rollout is vital to delivering better connectivity, every day for every customer and we will continue to do so.”

However, Three UK neglects to include any data to prove the aforementioned statement (we’ve asked them for it) and Ookla’s website does not yet display a Q1-Q2 2021 report for UK mobile operators. But they do report that median 5G download speeds for the UK in that period were 167.50Mbps across all operators. But judging from past reports, we do think that Ookla might indeed have found Three UK to be the fastest for downloads, although uploads and latency times are also a factor in any broad “fastest” claim.

Finally, the operator says they’ve been busy reconfiguring traffic and routing to “improve its service and ease the higher traffic areas.” The company has now enhanced the configuration of over 2,000 radio sites since April and customers in areas such as Armagh, Omagh, Cookstown, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh should all now be enjoying improved data speeds and latency. Three UK is continuing to enhance more areas, the majority of which are due to be completed by the end of Q3.

NOTE: The average data usage per customer per month on Three UK is currently 17 GigaBytes (Feb 2021 figure). Meanwhile, their network reached an all-time data traffic peak of 808Gbps (Gigabits per second) during the Man City vs PSG semi-final match of the Champions League in May 2021.

UPDATE 4:06pm

Three UK has kindly provided us with a full list of the 300 locations where 5G is now live. Just remember that in many of these areas, they may only be live in a small % part of each location.

Three UK’s 300 5G Locations
ABERDEEN
ABINGDON-ON-THAMES
ACCRINGTON
ADLINGTON
ALDERSHOT
ALDRIDGE
Altofts
Anstey
Armthorpe
ASHFORD
ASHINGTON
Aspull
Aughton
Balloch
BANBURY
BARNSLEY
BARRHEAD
BARROW-IN-FURNESS
BASILDON
BASINGSTOKE
BATH
BEDFORD
BELFAST CITY
Bellshill
BICESTER
BILLERICAY
BILLINGHAM
Birdwell
BIRKENHEAD
BIRMINGHAM
BISHOPS STORTFORD
Bishopthorpe
BLACKBURN
BLACKPOOL
BLYTH
BOREHAMWOOD
BOURNEMOUTH
BRACKNELL
BRADFORD
BRAINTREE
Bransholme
BRENTWOOD
BRIGHOUSE
BRIGHTON
Brimington
BRISTOL
Broadbridge Heath
BROMSGROVE
Brookmans Park
Broughton Astley
BUCKHAVEN
BUCKINGHAM
BURNLEY
BURTON UPON TRENT
BUSHEY
CANNOCK
CARDIFF / CAERDYDD
CARLISLE
Castle Donington
CHATHAM
CHELMSFORD
CHELTENHAM
CHESHAM
CHESTER
CHESTERFIELD
CHORLEY
CHRISTCHURCH
Christleton
Clayton-le-Woods
Clifton
COLCHESTER
Collingham
Copmanthorpe
Corringham
COVENTRY
CRAWLEY
CREWE
CROOK
CRUMLIN
Cullingworth
Danderhall
Denholme
DERBY
DEWSBURY
Dinnington
DONCASTER
Dordon
DUNDEE
DURHAM
Earls Barton
EAST KILBRIDE
EASTLEIGH
Eaton Socon
EDINBURGH
ELLESMERE PORT
ERSKINE
EXMOUTH
FALKIRK
FAVERSHAM
FELIXSTOWE
FORMBY
FRODSHAM
GATESHEAD
GERRARDS CROSS
GLASGOW
GLOUCESTER
GOLBORNE
Gorebridge
GRAYS
GREAT HARWOOD
GREENOCK
GRIMSBY
GUILDFORD
HALIFAX
HAMILTON
HARPENDEN
HARROGATE
Hartley
HATFIELD
HEANOR
Heathcote
Hedge End
HEMEL HEMPSTEAD
Hemsby
HERTFORD
HESWALL
HEYWOOD
Hilton
HORLEY
HORWICH
HOYLAND
HUDDERSFIELD
Huntington
Inchinnan
Ingleby Barwick
IPSWICH
IRLAM
Iver Heath
KEIGHLEY
Kimberley
King’s Hill
Kings Langley
King’s Stanley
KINGSTON UPON HULL
Kinmel Bay / Bae Cinmel
KIRKCALDY
KIRKHAM
Kirkheaton
KIRKLISTON
KIRKNEWTON
LEEDS
LEICESTER
LEIGH
LEYLAND
LINCOLN
Littlestone-on-Sea
LIVERPOOL
LIVINGSTON
LOANHEAD
Locks Heath
LOFTUS
LONDON
London Colney
LOUGHBOROUGH
Lower Stondon
LOWESTOFT
LUTON
LUTTERWORTH
MAIDENHEAD
MAIDSTONE
MANCHESTER
MANSFIELD
MARGATE
Marlow Bottom
Marston Moretaine
Maylandsea
MERTHYR TYDFIL / MERTHYR TUDFUL
METROPOLITAN CASTLEREAGH
METROPOLITAN NEWTOWNABBEY
MIDDLESBROUGH
MILNROW
MILTON KEYNES
MIRFIELD
Moorends
MOSSLEY
MOTHERWELL
Nelson
NESTON
New Rossington
NEWARK-ON-TRENT
NEWBRIDGE
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
Newhall
NEWPORT / CASNEWYDD
NEWPORT: GWENT
NEWQUAY
NEWTON ABBOT
NEWTON AYCLIFFE
NEWTON-LE-WILLOWS
NEWTOWN / Y DRENEWYDD
NORMANTON
NORTHAMPTON
NORWICH
NOTTINGHAM
NUNEATON
Offerton Green
OLDHAM
Ottershaw
OXFORD
PERTH
PETERBOROUGH
PLYMOUTH
PONTEFRACT
PORTHCAWL
PORTSMOUTH
POULTON-LE-FYLDE
PRESTON
QUEENSFERRY
RAMSBOTTOM
RAWTENSTALL
READING
REDCAR
REDDITCH
REDHILL
REIGATE
RHONDDA
ROCHESTER
ROTHWELL
Rottingdean
ROYSTON
RUGELEY
RUSHDEN
Sawston
SCUNTHORPE
Seaton Carew
SHEFFIELD
SHEFFORD
Shelly Green
SHILDON
SHREWSBURY
SITTINGBOURNE
SKELTON
SLOUGH
South Heighton
South Kirkby
South Normanton
South Ockendon
South Woodham Ferrers
SOUTHAMPTON
SOUTHEND-ON-SEA
SOUTHPORT
SPENNYMOOR
ST ALBANS
St Blazey
St Columb Road
STAFFORD
Stainforth
Stapenhill
STEVENAGE
STOCKSBRIDGE
STOCKTON-ON-TEES
STOKE-ON-TRENT
STRATFORD-UPON-AVON
SUNDERLAND
Sunninghill
SUTTON COLDFIELD
SUTTON IN ASHFIELD
SWADLINCOTE
SWANSEA / ABERTAWE
SWINDON
SWINTON
TAMWORTH
TAUNTON
TELFORD
THATCHAM
The Mumbles
Thornaby-on-Tees
TONBRIDGE
TOTTON
WAKEFIELD
WALLINGFORD
Walton
WANSTEAD
WARRINGTON
WASHINGTON
Weeping Cross
WELLS
WESTHOUGHTON
WEYBRIDGE
WHITBURN
WICKFORD
WIGAN
WINDSOR
Winterbourne
WOLVERHAMPTON
WORCESTER
WORKSOP
Writtle
YEOVIL
YORK

Leave a Comment
39 Responses
  1. Sam P says:

    29% is straight up false.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love what Three are doing.

    How do I know it’s false? I map out 5G data for all 4 major networks.
    Three’s claimed coverage includes areas where 5G signal is so extremely poor that the device would actually hop to 4G or even 3G. If you somehow could disable 3G and 4G on your device, you would still need a 50 meter ladder to make any use of the poor 5G signal to avoid buildings, trees and who knows what else.

    The reality is somewhere closer to 5-10% coverage, if you’re lucky.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Your description does sound more plausible, but as ever such claims need to be backed up by public data. Ofcom should soon start to report on 5G coverage and that may give us a better indication of the reality, albeit still subject to the usual quirks of mobile connectivity.

    2. Permanently ag er Pseudo-intellectual says:

      I’m the rightful king of england.

      Here’s my proof:

    3. Sam P says:

      Mark, check out cellmapper.net

    4. Mark Jackson says:

      Can you get modelled population data from Cellmapper? In any case, it’s a little out of date as a mile around me went live on 5G with Three a few months back, but that doesn’t seem to exist on Cellmapper.

    5. P says:

      You have an interesting hobby. Let us know when you can back that claim you with proven data and published works uses by the industry eh? Then we ‘may’ believe it’s your profession.

    6. Sam P says:

      @P are you some kind of passive aggressive low testosterone troll?

      It doesn’t take a genius to know 29% is false. Look at the Three 5G coverage map and then go and test their coverage in real life with several 5G devices. You’ll then soon find out their coverage is far lower than claimed. Yes Cellmapping is a volunteered hobby however I am a network engineer by profession. I’m not claiming anything I say is fact however I do have opinions based on experience. Take it as you wish.

    7. Sam P says:

      @Mark are you in Devon somewhere?

    8. Yatta! says:

      @Sam P: I’d put money on “Permanently ag er Pseudo-intellectual” being the right-wing troll, ranty little ‘Randy’, she’s absolutely unhinged!

    9. JsPoC says:

      FYI, Three’s broadband has been down consistently across the UK for the past few days. No answers as to what is causing the issue.

    10. Damien says:

      @Sam they state on their website my area has no 5G in this area and the store didn’t know either..

      And yet I get about 700mps all the time at work and home which are close to the centre..

      Maybe that’s part of the problem?

  2. TS says:

    Nperf reports that someone has picked up a tiny bit of 3’s 5g coverage here in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

    This was a month or so back and (sad that I am) I’ve even been down there with my note 20 ultra to see for myself – alas, nothing.

    I know networks test cells and sites before going live (EE was intermittently live in Huddersfield some 3 years ago now just for a couple of days before going live) but perhaps I just need a 50m ladder as per Sam P’s comment above!

    Any thoughts welcome

    1. Sam P says:

      EE and Three have both been switching 5G on and off for testing.

      I picked up a 5G signal for around a minute in a multi-story car park months before it actually went live in said town.

      The same goes for various 5G signals picked up on the motorways.
      I’d go back to the towns I picked the data up in a few days later to then not be able to get a 5G signal, even when hunting the masts down and getting near them.

      One of the issues the networks are having is backbone infrastructure. Three for example have installed full 5G running gear at TA3 5NN however 5G has not been switched on as there is only a 100mbps connection going in to the site.

  3. Aictos says:

    I’ve tried both Vodafone and Three for 5G coverage, believe it or not I was getting a 5G signal in far more places with Three then Vodafone.

    Vodafone 5G is pretty much non existent as a end user that is although they do to their credit do show any upgrades in a 3 month period on their coverage maps.

    1. Connor says:

      Yeah Vodafone hasn’t exactly done much, they did my local train station in the first rollout, they’ve expanded a bit but in the same time EE and Three came and are dominating the area in comparison.

  4. Jack says:

    Three must get frustrated when their new masts get refused. Surely that will mean overall that they don’t manage to deploy their network with the most potential.

    According to their coverage checker, 5G is live for me but not strong enough to penetrate indoors to receive it as a viable indoor broadband product. As long as they are honest enough about that and don’t let the customer still go through with the order is another matter!

  5. Terry O'Toole says:

    “The company has now enhanced the configuration of over 2,000 radio sites since April and customers in areas such as… Omagh… should all now be enjoying improved data speeds and latency.”

    As an ID Mobile customer whom lives near Omagh, therefore using 3’s network, IMO it would be a better idea for 3 to improve their physical coverage in the town, let alone improving current data capacity. An uncomfortably large percentage is reliant on the 800 MHz 4G layer for a weak but otherwise usable signal outdoors let alone indoors, particularly in the town centre and also in Killyclogher and the Hospital, Dromore and Derry roads, putting pressure on its limited capacity. 3’s own coverage checker bears this out.

    1. Mike80 says:

      These data capacity upgrades include adding 4G to the L-Band (B32) and in some areas 700MHz (B28). This means fewer users on B20 in your area.

      However, older 4G devices might not support B28 and B28 and will stay on B20.

    2. Terry O'Toole says:

      Mike80: I’ve been in Omagh the last few days and in my observation using a Samsung Galaxy A41 (supports Band 28 but not Band 32 SDL), only Bands 3 and 20 were noted. Quite possible that Band 32 has been added at some sites, I don’t know if getting these sites upgraded to carry it requires changes to BTS infrastructure that consequently requires planning permission – the last time any such sites in the town and surrounding rural area carrying 3’s network that had planning permission submitted for it was around 2012/13.

  6. Ben says:

    Do we know when the coverage checker will be updated?

  7. Billy nomates says:

    I see Bedford on the list again.

    one mast. near the hospital. since 2019.
    tbf though, the council keep denying everyone permission to fit masts unless it’s near the shall we say less than affluent parts of town.

    1. F McClintock says:

      Check out the 5G ‘coverage’ map for Gloucester if you fancy a chuckle. Saying a location is ‘live’ is literally worthless when it comes to Three.

  8. Sam Perry says:

    Shoreham by sea is missing off that list.

  9. Ogilvie Jackson says:

    What sort of speeds are being received by Three 5G on the new 700 mhz band ?

    1. Nathan Brassington says:

      None, they are using 700Mhz for 4G

    2. Damien says:

      I’m up north and getting 700-800mbps most of the day. God it roasts the phone though lol my phone does down battery wise even when charging and its 65w!

  10. Imran Iqbal says:

    I live in Crawley West Sussex Near Gatwick Airport. I here Last 4 months no 4 coverage in over the area I run over mobile Just 3G, I don’t what the wrong 3UK Last 4/5 month the QOS is going down and down Every, always speak technical team just do an apology. and take time just weak service back to normal but it not……I don’t know where is Ofcom why not take action that service providor,

  11. Liam says:

    Strange not to see Cullompton (Devon) on the list. I’ve been connected to Three 5G at home for a number of months now. For a short while the 3 coverage checker recognised 5G was available in my area but that has since been removed. Can routinely get ~200Mb download on a speedtest.

    1. David Williams says:

      Indoors?

    2. Liam says:

      Yes, indoors. Downstairs, upstairs, all around my house.

    3. Connor says:

      Wolverhampton had Three 5G for a long time and I think this is the first time they’ve had it on a list. Not surprised.

  12. Howard says:

    Hi guys I live in St Albans 5G been here after the London roll out stops 3 metre from me been like that from July 2019

  13. Damien says:

    I just got a three sim to see what it was like around here. I didn’t expect to get decent 4G let alone 5G at nearly 600mbps!

    I take it back three and I’ll be getting a new contract with you tomorrow.i faster r EE was fast but this is faster and in the middle of a town in daytime!

    1. Damien says:

      Their website says no 5G but we are on the list and using it which I guess is good until more people know about it!

  14. Grimreaper says:

    Still got the hangover from getting this new fangled 4G recently, granted it’s so slow you can get an haircut whilst the Google logo loads but hey, we should get 5G around 2064.

    1. Damien says:

      I had a nice surprise yesterday when I got a PAYG sim… I can’t upload on the phone I don’t think but I just got 769 down and 52 up!

  15. Damien says:

    LOL well I have to say – Three is certainly hitting Sheffield! – this was this morning!

    https://ibb.co/12q6GZ7

    🙂 🙂

  16. Damien says:

    I’ve now done over 1.3TB on PAYG and have moved over to contract. So there is no 1TB limit anymore

  17. Dylan says:

    Got three 5G broadband as I noticed I was getting a good 5G signal on their network in some locations in my home on my phone, been getting a steady 290 to 330mbit since I got the product and is the best speed I can get at this location, have vdsl2 at 70mbit, no virginmedia or ultrafast bt, in an area due for fibre to home 1gbit connection in the next year or two so very good product for me here for now

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