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Three mobile broadband

Three overview

  • 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 logo
rating - 5 stars5 stars
rating - 4 stars4 stars
rating - 4 stars3 stars
rating - 5 stars5 stars
Feelgood factor
rating - 5 stars5 stars
Dongle software
rating - 3 stars3 stars
Overall rating
rating - 5 stars
5 / 5

July 2014

Broadband Genie Road Trip 2014 Winner

Three has done well in previous Road Trips and continued that trend in 2014 by coming out on top in almost all areas for both 3G and 4G services.

The dongles tested in the 2014 Road Trip were the Huawei E3256, a 3G USB dongle with folding connector which allows the device to be angled for better reception, and a ZTE MF823 for 4G, again a USB model.

Three had the fastest speeds overall, excelling in both 3G and 4G performance. Average 3G speeds were 4.48Mb download and 1.4Mb upload, with 4G coming in at 6.19Mb up and 1.54Mb down. At best we recorded 19.53Mb download for 4G and 15.41Mb for 3G, the latter actually exceeding the top speeds for every other network and service except for Three’s own 4G.

Upload speeds were acceptable but less impressive. We recorded top speeds of 3.46Mb for 3G and 2.89Mb for 4G, which was good but didn’t hold out across the whole test leading to those unexciting average numbers.

Perhaps Three’s best achievement was that it was able to complete 90% of our tasks, demonstrating an ability to retain a connection through difficult conditions better than any other network. This was particularly useful for large file downloads and uploads and streaming media, where several other providers encountered great difficulty.

Its performance led to Three winning not just our overall Road Trip award for 2014, but also the awards for fastest mobile broadband, best coverage, best 3G and best 4G.

Detailed results of the Mobile Broadband Genie Road Trip 2014

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

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  • happy

    by Peter at 14:24 on 9 Sep 2014

    Hi, same problem here been using mine at the same location for 5 years and been slow the last couple of months sometimes only 512k.

    Its picked up again 5mb plus in the daytime, one time 12mbs. The dongles do go I have had several just buy a new one off eBay.

    I am in a very bad area and have an antenna on the roof.

    Overall I have been very satisfied as BT only gives 512k in my area.

    Also I use Google for D.N.S - I.P. which is better for sites with lots of links.


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  • neutral

    by Peter - Merseyside at 21:58 on 8 Sep 2014

    For Katherine - if you continue to get problems, get on the phone, or perhaps better to go to the store and ask to speak to the tech support staff at Three.

    A few months ago I was having problems with calls cutting out, texts not being sent, and internet sometimes intermittent. Three refunded a month's contract fee to me (and if I had not had my second phone also on contract, stolen, I'd have requested a refund on that month's payment too). If you are getting poor service because they are doing things with the masts, then you can at least ask about compensation in the form of a refund (or ask for an 80% reduction until the work they are doing leaves you back to as good a service as you had before).

    I got a replacement SIM for the one lost in the theft, and my data usage the last few days has been 1030 MB, 1879 MB, 1952 MB, and 2627 MB today.

    Hope service improves for all of you. If you still get problems, then complaining via BBC "You and Yours: or Consumer Association (Which? magazine/ website) might get some awkward questions asked by the media to Three, and get them to take more notice.

    Report abuse
  • neutral

    by Chris P at 13:07 on 15 Aug 2014

    I live in Chailey in East Sussex and after trying 3 mbb for three months ditched my unreliable landline because Openreach don't want to dig up the 100ft concrete path that covers their defective multi pair copper cable from the nearest pole to the cabinet. All was well until the end of April when 3 became slow. Its got progessively worse and now although the connection is rock solid, after downloading the first page it all locks up.Interestingly, when I enter a web address in Chrome, the upload wheel spins endlessly which suggests that there's a DNS issue (see Derek B below), as ping tests are fine. If I can ever get to the webpage, file downloads run at a reasonable speed (2.5Mb). The Three bozo in India told me my problems were due to an issue affecting all wireless devices in the UK (yes folks, really: Putin must be jamming us) but he would get back to me in 48 hours. There's seven left and I'm not hopeful. As there are many of you here who feel cheated, anyone interested in launching a Class Action against 3? While we all moan individually on forums like this, nothing will get done. Don't get mad, get even.

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  • 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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