A first hands on with 4G from Three UK

By James Richardson on 10 Jan 2014 03:46 am EST

For UK mobile consumers there is just one main network left to join the 4G party and that's Three. As most folk will be aware - EE, Vodafone and O2 have already launched LTE across Great Britain, although EE are clearly leading the way as they had a big head start. 

This means that Three have some catching up to do. The network recently rolled out 4G to a select few thousand people for testing, however things are now very close to rolling out across four UK cities (mid February at the latest) - with a total of 50 being covered later in the year. I think I'm right in saying that they expect to have 98% of the population covered by the end of 2015. 

I was lucky enough to test out Three's 4G network recently at a special event for a handful of bloggers. As you will see from the above video, the speeds were certainly impressive, although once this things rolls out to the masses we should see the speeds settle down and be on par with the other 4G carriers, so expect an average download speed of between 12-20mbps - that's still more than adequate for streaming the likes of movies and music. 

You'll also see that I put my own Three smartphone (with a 3G SIM) up against the 4G ones and the difference in speeds was pretty huge. Although you wont see one in this video, all BlackBerry 10 devices are already 4G ready, which means that you won't have to do anything to get the enhanced data speeds. All Three customers with a 4G smartphone will automatically switch over to 4G when in an area with coverage and the best part is that they are sticking to their promise and not increasing prices for the privilege of using 4G - unlike all the other UK networks. This will be the one thing that sets them apart from the competition. 

Three already have some great value plans - in particular with 'All You Can Eat' data - something that I've taken advantage of for some time now. You can't really beat it. Sure, here in the UK we are way behind some other countries in terms of LTE, but we're getting there slowly. 

Will you be making the switch over to Three for their 4G at no extra cost? Let us know in the comments. 

For Three customers you may want to keep an eye on the coverage checker to see when the 4G service is available in your area: 

Check out the Three UK coverage checker.

Topics: Three UK Carriers

Reader comments

A first hands on with 4G from Three UK


Don't see what you can do with 4g that you can't already do with 3g to justify the premium. The likes of BT give access to millions of free wifi hotspots so you potentially don't need larger data plans.

PM me the 4G apn settings Jimmy. Three is taking the piss now.

In hindsight; I would rather have paid the EE premium if I had known Three was going to drag their feet with the roll out.

At least it wouldn't have been so bad if they were clear with their advertising that only a select few subscribers would be getting the 4G service from December.

Posted via CB10

I've switched all the family over from O2 to Three over the last couple of months.
I'm not sure when 4G is coming to Bath but for now I'm very happy with the H+ speeds we're getting. Much faster than the O2 3g speeds we had before.

All you can eat data is great too. It took me a little while to realise that I did not have to ration data usage though. Old habits die hard! =)

Posted via CB10

I have been touring the UK with BlackBerry this year and have had a Three sim card since I started. Every city I have been to and even en route I have been able to get speeds quick enough to stream live TV and videos whilst also not struggling with creating and uploading videos and websites. I'm very data intensive using upto 30gig a month with no problems and can not speak highly enough of Threes £15 a month rolling contract. If you have a phone already I strongly believe Three is the best option.

Posted via CB10

I swapped to THREE's SIM only all you can eat monthly contract for £12.90 a month. It has better coverage than Vodafone do and it is a huge amount cheaper and 4G free when it gets here.
What's not to love?!

Posted via CB10

That is pretty cheap. Many complained about having terrible signal with Three 3G though.

4G uses a more narrow signal :s so maybe it'll be ok.

Posted from my Z30 via the CB app

I'd rather 6Gb of consistent than unlimited spotty data.

I'm with Vodafone but hardly use 4G. I've switched mine on today, I'm feeling dangerous !


Posted from my Z30 via the CB app

Three owe me £500+!! Their customer service team are rotten!! 99% of the time you'll get through to someone the other side of the world who can barely speak English or has an accent soo strong you couldn't tell anyway... the signal is often as awful as the service...

Worst network ever, do not trust them and stay away from them like they have the plague!!!!!!

Posted via CB10

I don't see any other bad comments. Tell us more, don't shout because something went wrong. Maybe it was your fault and you blame others. Never had any issues with them, 8 years or so.

Posted via BB Z10

So these tests managed around 20mb download and about 10mb upload on THREE 4G?

For a demonstration, I'd have expected far better results than that. I can get almost double that on EE and those 4G downloads are only about double what my friend gets on his 3G with THREE.

The only big gain I can see here is the upload speeds. Nothing groundbreaking with the downloads really. And the same has to be said for EE.

Posted via CB10

Whoa!!! That speed??? That's even faster than my home Internet man! Sucks! Freakin Indonesia and their network backbone suck shit!

Posted via CB10

I like how they say O2 are already on 4G - as a customer I can assure you they are NOT! And when they do finally roll it out, the MIN monthly plan will be £40+ per month plus vat!

Not worth it with so many wifi spots.

Knowledge is power... Posted via CB10