Everything you need to know about Three UK

 

Today in the UK, there are more than 8 million people who’ve chosen to sign up with Three. With a huge national presence, coverage which blankets the nation and a wide range of contract offers, they’re an excellent choice.

But if you’re stuck choosing between Three and the other big networks like EE, Vodafone and O2, it can be hard to work out whether they’re the right choice for you. After all, what are you supposed to expect from the company? Well, in this guide we’re going to cover everything you need to know about their company, including their history, their coverage levels, customer satisfaction levels and the services they offer. Let’s dig in.

Three: A Short History

Three launched in the UK on the 3rd of March 2003 (03-03-03) off the back of the spectrum sale for 3G mobile internet, with handsets going on sale later that month.

Initially launching with the hook of being the UK’s first commercial video mobile network, the company emphasised their ability to allow customers to download video straight to their phone, and later make video calls. However, they didn’t place an emphasis on the mobile internet, because at that time mobile phones lacked the speed and technology to really browse the internet with any talent.

Their first retail stores opened on launch day on Oxford Street and Kensington High Street, along with a store are the Birmingham Mailbox. If you lived outside of these areas, you could pick up Three mobiles and contracts from chain outlets like Phones 4 U and the Carphone Warehouse.

By December 2004, Three were able to announce that they were the first UK network to reach the regulatory requirement of 80% population coverage. That number has now risen to over 97%, and includes 4G as well.

Though their initial service was held back by slow, cumbersome phones from manufacturers like NEC and a broadly unreliable network, Three piled money into improving their service and lowing contract prices, making them a much more attractive offering. It wouldn’t be until the arrival of the smartphone, however, that Three really took off.

Suddenly, the 3G mobile network was more than just an interesting curiosity, it was absolutely essential to the functioning of your latest device. Though it was the fourth network in the UK to launch the iPhone, it was regularly winning awards for having the fastest and most reliable mobile broadband network, making it a natural choice for customers serious about their mobile usage.

Since then, the Hutchison Whampoa owned company (who used to own Orange in its early days) has gone from strength to strength, simplifying contracts and offering a wide range of exciting new phones.

Recently, the company announced their intention to acquire O2 for £10.25 billion, subject to regulatory approval. Thus far, that approval has not been forthcoming, but it goes to show just how large Three has become in the 13 years since its launch.

What is Three’s UK coverage level?

Three currently boasts a coverage level of 97%, which means that the vast majority of the UK will see a strong coverage level. That coverage level, however, is for 3G only. For 4G, you’ll find most major population centres are covered with strong 4G coverage. To check whether your area is covered by Three’s network, use this helpful tool.

Do customers like Three?

On the whole, Three’s customers are very happy with their service. In fact, out of the big four networks (Three, O2, Vodafone & EE), Three enjoy the highest levels of customer satisfaction, sitting fifth in the table behind GiffGaff, Asda, Tesco, iD and Virgin Mobile. Customers praised their excellent value for money and strong coverage and customer service. However, because Three don’t offer much by way of incentives for joining their service, they only scored 1 star in that area, dragging their overall score down. In total, Three enjoys a 61% approval rating amongst customers.

What services do Three offer?

Three have two basic contract offers for mobiles, ‘Essential’ and ‘Advanced’. Both can be taken with variable amounts of minutes and data, but here’s the basics of each.

Essential plans

  • 4G included as standard and at no extra cost
  • The ability to control your spend
  • Unlimited texts
  • My3 Online and support for the Three app
  • Complimentary WiFi on the London Underground
  • £5 discount when paying by Direct Debit

Advanced plans

  • Feel at Home – Use your allowances to text, call and browse the internet whilst abroad. Details here
  • Personal hotspot support
  • Free calls to customer service numbers
  • 4G included as standard and at no extra cost
  • The ability to control your spend
  • Unlimited texts
  • My3 Online and support for the Three app
  • Complimentary WiFi on the London Underground
  • £5 discount when paying by Direct Debit

You can also buy home and in-car broadband from Three, through their plug in dongles.