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  • Wide range of packages including pay monthly contracts with 1GB, 5GB or 15GB data allowance
  • Free 4G mobile broadband
  • PAYG mobile broadband available with data included - ideal for gifts
  • Great range of laptop specs available with a mobile broadband month contract
  • If you're an existing Three Mobile customer, you get 25% off any 18 month mobile broadband package.
  • Free delivery and 14 day returns policy

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Three Broadband Genie Road Test results

Three Road test
Three Huawei E3256
rating - 5 stars5 stars
rating - 4 stars4 stars
rating - 3 stars3 stars
Coverage & stability
rating - 5 stars5 stars
Feelgood factor
rating - 5 stars5 stars
Dongle software
rating - 3 stars3 stars
Overall rating
rating - 5 stars
5 / 5

May 2013

Broadband Genie Road Trip 2013 Winner

Three has consistently been among the top performers in previous Road Trip outings, and that sterling track record hasn’t changed in 2013. It once again came out on top in almost every area, far ahead of most other providers, proving that true to their word it really is the network “built for internetting”.

Three supplied the Huawei E3256 dongle for this year’s tests, which is its latest model of “Premium dongle”. The difference being support for ultra-fast DC-HSDPA connections and a swivel head USB adapter that supposedly helps improve reception. Installation was quick and painless; as with other Huawei dongles the software is not intrusive.

It had the highest number of successful tests, completing 30 of the 37, including all but one of the speed tests. Its speed test ratings were very impressive, we hit a top downstream rate of 8.66Mb at one point, showing that the ultra-fast DC-HSDPA upgrades are having an impact. Its overall average was 1.87Mb down, which is actually very slightly slower than last year, but still significantly better than every other provider apart from EE.

Upload speeds didn’t hit quite the same high numbers, but with a peak of 2.15Mb and an average 0.94Mb were still very respectable.

Three did reasonably well on the streaming video and audio side of things, completing four of the 11 videos, and coming very close to finishing two other streams before running out of time. That doesn’t sound amazing but no other provider managed to finish more than five of these demanding tasks.

It stormed the file download and upload tests, successfully completing ten of the 11 different tasks with some very fast times. That it managed to pull down a file of over 100MB in size while on a fast moving train, something no other provider managed, is a testament to Three’s ability to hold onto a connection for long periods. That’s extremely important for mobile broadband, and one of many reasons we had no hesitation in declaring Three the winner of the 2013 Mobile Broadband Road Trip.

Overall analysis of the Mobile Broadband Genie Road Trip 2013

by Matt Powell May 2013

About Three

While Three mobile broadband may have been late to the party as far as mobile network operators are concerned (being the fifth and final one to gain a 3G licence), it has concentrated hard on trying to lead the pack in terms of 3G mobile broadband. So far, it has pretty much succeeded.

UK residents have been bombarded with everything from free Three mobile broadband dongles and MiFi units to aggressive pricing campaigns. Over the past few years it has pulled back on some of its customer service problems too, while its network has gone from also-ran to contender.

Launched as a brand of the Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Whampoa Corporation, 3 UK's mobile network arrived in 2003. The company launched its mobile broadband in August 2007, undercutting its rivals, while its pay as you go version followed in December of the same year. 3 became the first mobile broadband operator to launch 'free' laptop deals in July 2008 and it now offers mobile internet contracts from less than £10 per month. It was also the first to market with mobile Wi-Fi dongles, which it has dubbed MiFi.

In 2008, 3 signed an agreement with rival network T-Mobile to combine their 3G access networks: at the time the biggest agreement of its type (it has since been trumped by a similar deal between Vodafone and O2). In 2011 Three began to offer truly unlimited mobile broadband to its smartphone customers, while also offering the biggest range of mobile broadband deals on dongles, MiFis and laptops in terms of data allowances.

In 2014, Three activated its 4G network in selected cities across the UK, with plans for 98% coverage by 2015. In contrast to other networks Three does not charge extra for 4G, so if you have a 4G capable device on Three you can enjoy these faster speeds right away without any additional outlay.

Three customer reviews

Show all 686 Three Mobile Broadband reviews»

  • neutral

    by john mulder at 09:58 on 28 Jul 2014

    Been with three since 2008 mbb customer, now also phone as well. Though I am a happy customer I think the claims of coverage are way overrated and seem to change from week to week. I check my speeds regularly and they can vary massively from day to day.

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  • neutral

    by katherine at 22:12 on 17 Jul 2014

    I have used Three B/B dongle very happily for five years - until four weeks ago when it became impossibly slow to download all usual items. The on-line tech team said I needed a new dongle; this did not improve speed. Checked with Three store who immediately told me my local mast had been degraded four weeks ago at just the same time my reception went down. Three has no idea when, or if, the mast will be restored, or replaced for 4G. Said the Tech Team should have told me this when I phoned. Very disappointed.

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  • neutral

    by Peter - Merseyside at 00:34 on 17 Jun 2014

    @Rob - sorry to read you had poor experience. I am on One Plan with unlimited data and very happy with it. Had to get T-Mob to cancel contract part way through as they had switched masts from T-Mob to EE, and that was with no penalties (and they had sent me a 100 quid signal box earlier on, too). Whole 6 months cost me nothing as I had a cashback deal through TopCashBack.

    I was using Three for data on contract (15 GB for 7.50 a month) from October 2008 to September 2012 (first in N Wales, later on Merseyside). Only cancelled the contract as I had broadband on landline after I moved here.

    Now on One Plan I use up to 60 GB of data month, as I can use the mobile as a portable wi-fi router. Will be getting a 4G mobile in next few months which will give higher speed connection for my laptops, tablet and iMacs.

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  • neutral

    by gertrude banger at 20:46 on 14 Jun 2014

    firstly i have to say the people i have to spoke to at three are very apologetic, and to their credit they did reduce the cost of my service 50% after i complained about the slow speeds ive been receiving on their mobile broadband service.

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