Appy holidays: Three switches on 5G in staycation hotspots

  • 5G switched on in 86 new locations including tourist hotspots of Dartmouth, Milford on Sea, Aberystwyth, Holywood and Irvine
  • Two thirds of Brits say good network coverage is important while on holiday, whilst over half (58%) of Brits would be less likely to choose accommodation in areas with poor mobile phone coverage
  • Three UK is investing £2bn as part of its ongoing efforts to build a Big Network for UK staycations
  • Connectivity contributes to £3.4 billion per year in new revenue for British tourist businesses – a knock-on boost to the economy of £1.97 billion in gross value added (GVA).

As the staycations season hots up and temperatures are set to reach new highs, Three UK announces the switch on of superfast 5G in 86 new areas including rural and coastal locations across the UK like Dartmouth, Milford on Sea, Aberystwyth, Holywood and Irvine. These join hotspots such as Brighton, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Bangor and more that already benefit from 5G connectivity.


The news comes as Three publishes ‘Appy Holidays, a new report conducted by consultancy Development Economics, showing that good connectivity is proven to be a boost for tourist businesses, with a quarter (24%) of people saying they would likely spend more when mobile phone reception is excellent due to the ability to read reviews and make bookings or online purchases. Over half (58%) of Brits who go on holiday would be less likely to choose accommodation with poor mobile phone network coverage, while two-fifths (42%) would decide not to visit a place to eat or activity for the same reason.


All told, good connectivity contributes to £3.4 billion per year in new revenue for British tourist businesses – a knock-on boost to the economy of £1.97 billion in gross value added (GVA).


The research comes as Three UK reveals it has been named the UK’s fastest 5G network* in H1 for the third time in a row with a Speed Score™ of 248.16, 84.37% faster than the nearest competitor*. 

It follows its ongoing £2bn+ investment in network technology which has doubled the number of 5G sites in the last year to 3,200. Since the start of 2022, 5G has been rolled out to 86 new areas including


North Devon, Torbay and Great Yarmouth are just some of the areas that see a particular benefit from tourists using their mobiles to plan and enjoy holidays. In 2019 – the last pre-pandemic year on record – Three’s report reveals that £28.4 million of visitor expenditure was ‘safeguarded’ by mobile in these places combined.


Eat, drink, do – mobile key to holiday plans

The findings have been calculated after a survey of more than 2,000 households revealed that over two thirds (68%) of Brits who go on holiday say mobile phone coverage is important when thinking about booking a break, while a quarter (24%) would be unlikely to visit a holiday destination if they found reviews describing the area as having poor coverage.

The research also finds that:

  • When thinking about booking a holiday, mobile phone network coverage is important to:
  • 60% when deciding on places to eat; and
  • 57% when deciding on activities.
  • Over two fifths (44%) frequently use their mobile phone to read reviews, with similar proportions using their phone to find activities and things to do (43%) and check availability or to book tickets (42%).
  • Over a third (35%) frequently use their phone to get holiday inspiration, and three in ten (30%) use their phone to pay for goods and services in person.


Elaine Carey, Three UK Chief Commercial Officer, said: “Whether it’s a coastal trip to the seaside, a quiet cottage getaway, or a city break, there is an expectation from holidaymakers that they will be able to stay in touch with friends and family, make use of online review and booking platforms, and post about their trip on social media.”


Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston, said: “There are so many reasons to choose a staycation in the UK, whether it’s our superb hospitality, stunning coastal retreats or world-class national parks. Good mobile coverage is vital to supporting our thriving tourism sector, that’s why our £1 billion Shared Rural Network will see us work alongside the industry to end patchy phone signals in rural communities.”


Graham Donoghue, Chief Executive Officer of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: “We’re gearing up for what is expected to be our busiest summer on record. Although some of our guests will want to switch off from outside pressures, they still want to be connected to browse what to do and where to eat. Others are opting for working holidays or ‘work-cations’ so for them connectivity is paramount.”


In the lead up to summer – as the staycation season reaches its peak – Three will continue to play a role in unlocking opportunities for tourists and the businesses that serve them.

Three UK’s ongoing network investment will help level-up UK connectivity and support the booming staycation sector.


Elaine Carey, Three UK Chief Commercial Officer, continued: “We are committed to playing our part to ensure we continue to provide excellent coverage for all. That’s why we’re investing £2m every day in the network to rollout the UK’s fastest 5G network which now covers more than 56% of the UK’s population.”

*Based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data for Q1–Q2 2022. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.


 The full report can be read here.

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