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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 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 679 Three Mobile Broadband reviews»

  • happy

    by Simon at 07:46 on 26 Mar 2014

    I have been using three for the last two years on a contract with an Ipad2 and it has been faultless. Never any problems and very good coverage, better that EE/Vodafone/O2 etc. I have now signed another two year contract and now have an Ipad mini too, happy bunny.

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  • happy

    by Peter on Merseyside at 11:27 on 5 Mar 2014

    Think there are major variations in CS and signal...

    While I'd agree CS can be hard to deal with (and accent issues are at the heart of it, though sometimes it's Three policies that cause the problems). I had a problem getting a PAC to move my number to T-Mobile about a year ago, and needed OFCOM to put pressure on Three.

    However, signal from T-Mobile became unusable (they switched 3 masts to give EE 4G coverage) in June and I went back to Three.

    My Sister and Brother-in-Law are with Three and I have two contracts (SIM Only "One Plan" which allows unlimited data including tethering, so can be used for laptop and tablet too, 2000 minutes, and so on, and another with a phone and limited minutes, but still unlimited data).

    Have previously (in N Wales and here) used their internet data SIM with a low cost contract £7.50/month for 15 GB, between October 2008 and September 2012. Every month I used the full 15 GB and have had no problems whatsoever (my business depended on using the internet on Three while I had no landline at a property).

    Still happy with them overall, and still happy to recommend them!

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  • unhappy

    by RPG at 02:37 on 1 Mar 2014

    To make this horrible story short; Three is Utterly dreadful,total confusion and bunch of liars douche bags.. and finally 'NEVER EVER AGAIN'!!!!

    Report abuse
  • unhappy

    by Yasmin at 21:54 on 7 Nov 2013

    OK you think you guys have got it bad with this incompetent money grabbing company. I have been a loyal customer of 3 Mobile Broadband for 2 years now, paid £37.40 a month for a contract with a laptop, in which was paid on time in full every month. Not a single late payment. This August the contract ended as it was 2 years of being up. Correct me if I am wrong but the contract should end automatically unless you renew it or upgrade, and neither of the two did I do. In the month of September I received a bill for £91.76, I thought F*** me how did that happen. So I phoned them on 20th September straight after receiving the bill and asked what this bill was for. They told me it was for the usage between 10-09-13 and 09-10-13. Considering I personally hadn't used this dongle since October 2012 (after I moved into my flat and got BT broadband) I immediately said now the contract is up please can you cancel it. I thought this had been done. I know I lent my dongle to my sister but all she was using it for was Facebook so I'm not sure how there was 15,360 MB over used on the 15GB!! Either way I agreed to pay this but would need to speak to my sister first as she was the one who was using it and wanted to get her to pay it as she was the one using it. Anyway I kept on receiving calls from them so on 27th October I took the call and I paid £5 off as this was all I could afford. At that point they told me the contract was still going and I said to them there and then I cancelled this in September, I then said to them please make sure this is cancelled because I cannot afford for any more charged to be added. They told me it had been cancelled. Today (7th November) I receive a phone call from a debt collections agency ATD to be precise telling me that I now have a bill of £123 something, and I was like how the hell did this happen this was supposed to be cancelled in September so how have the charges risen and they said because the broadband had been used between the last bill and this bill. I said how could it have been, I cancelled it back in September. Surprise Surprise they have no record of me cancelling it, knowing deep in my heart I done this twice already!!!! Finally the man on the phone said to me that he had cancelled it today but it takes 30 days to process the cancellation and would not take effect until 7th December!!! THAT IS THREE MONTHS AFTER I HAD ORIGINALLY CANCELLED IT!! I know for a fact and I will swear on the bible that I have not used this amount of data but to get them off my back I offered the debt collection agency £10 per month as that literally is all I can afford, I have £35.63 left over from my wages each month after paying the bills and that money is for food, either way I offered £10 out of my measly £35, but did they accept it....NO! they told me this was not enough and I should try and pay on a credit card. I DONT HAVE A CREDIT CARD..."Maam do you have family or friends who could pay this for you?" Err no, its not their fault 3 have ripped me off royally. I don't understand how they can get away with this!!

    I am going down Citizen's Advice tomorrow because this is just daylight robbery. So so unfair that they can just say well you haven't cancelled it because we do not have it on file. Bulls***. I will request for them to look through and listen to their "recorded calls" and know that I cancelled this!!!

    Please anyone who doesn't have money to just burn and waste on such a corrupt company please do not ever go with them.

    If anyone has any helpful tips to get me out of this mess I have been put in please contact me :(


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