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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 delivered a consistently strong performance 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

Show all 691 Three Mobile Broadband reviews»

  • neutral

    by sandy at 17:06 on 17 Oct 2014

    Absolutely awful where i live (s40 1hp) . although i always get a good signal, i often have trouble getting my dongle to connect, & when i do connect the data just stops. I often buy 1gb for £10 a month on payg, but it's so bad now that i can rarely use more than half of the data allowance. I have also been using giffgaff (on o2 network) & i have to say that it is better (not alot) & it is cheaper, so i think i'll be sticking with that for now !

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  • neutral

    by Craig Morgan at 17:46 on 8 Oct 2014

    The service is absolutely dire here in North London. I live in Bounds Green and I get 0.21 download at peak times. No 4G in this area and it is now nearly 2015 in one of the biggest capital cities in the world. 3 are clearly not investing money in their network as you can't even get 4G in London let alone other parts of the UK. For this reason i'm out.

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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.

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