Three Mobile Broadband Review – Low cost portable 4G connectivity for all your devices

Mobile Broadband keeps you connected when you’re on the move, and Three makes sure you have a portable 4G hotspot so you can get internet anywhere in the UK and abroad.

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Three September 2021 OfferLatest  Offer: 12GB Data for just £8/Month SIM Only

Three is offering customers 12GB data with unlimited UK minutes and texts for just £8 a month! The deal is a 12-month contract. There are no data or speed caps.

With this Half Cooked Exclusive Deal you also get 5G at no extra cost as well as access to Go Roam. Click through to ensure you don’t miss out!

Nowadays, all the network providers in the UK have great 4G coverage across the country and they can utilise their infrastructure to offer 4G broadband plans for people who don’t want or can’t get wired broadband at home.

Three has a wide variety of mobile broadband data SIMs bundled with high quality routers. You can purchase one of Three’s data SIMs to get online and set up your wireless personal hotspot using a Mobile Wi-Fi router. The network offers pay monthly data SIM contracts, pay as you go data SIMs, and a free data SIM that comes with 200MB data on it to get you started.

Since mobile broadband connections don’t require a landline, they are perfect for people who are on the move a lot, or for people looking for a simple, low cost option for their home/office.

Pro’s

  • 4G coverage almost everywhere.
  • Wide variety of plans to choose from.
  • Free data SIM with monthly renewing 200MB data.
  • Reliable wireless routers.
  • Pay as you go option.

Con’s

  • Connection can be impacted by location, which can lead to slow data speeds.
  • 4G coverage and data speeds aren’t as good as EE, Virgin, BT etc.
  • No 5G yet.
 

Table of Contents

What is Mobile Broadband?

Mobile broadband is the best way to keep your Wi-Fi enabled devices connected when you’re on the move or if you don’t want to deal with wired broadband. Mobile broadband gives you the ability to bring your internet anywhere and take advantage of the fast data speeds now offered by mobile network providers.

Mobile broadband deals require a data SIM and a wireless router in order to provide internet access. Three offers a wide variety of data SIMs, as well as mobile devices like handsets and tablets.

You can connect multiple Wi-Fi devices to your wireless router, letting you game, stream or download files wherever you go. You can also share your connection with friends and family. Three offers two wireless routers at the moment: 4G+ MiFi and Huawei HomeFi (Huawei B311).

Mobile broadband works in pretty much the same way as creating a personal hotspot with your handset, but it offers stronger signals, better coverage and significantly more reliable internet connection.

How does Mobile Broadband work?

Mobile broadband uses a data SIM card that goes into a wireless router or a tablet. Most modern tablets usually have a data SIM slot, but they’re not as capable as wireless routers when it comes to distributing the mobile internet to other devices. If you want to connect multiple devices to one data SIM, wireless routers are the best way to do so.

You can stay connected as long as you have access to a strong mobile signal and network coverage. Mobile broadband eliminates the need to find a Wi-Fi network, if you’re on the move a lot. When you have coverage and are connected to Three’s network, a mobile Wi-Fi router can create a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be used to connect multiple wireless devices. If you choose the Huawei HomeFi router, you can also use a wired connection.

Thanks to mobile broadband you can establish a secure local area network within your property, and without the need for a fixed line.

Plans & Pricing

Pay Monthly Mobile Broadband Data SIMs

In the UK, 4G technology is constantly improving and changing for the better. This means as long as you get good coverage, 4G can deliver download speeds that are comparable to home broadband, or sometimes even faster. Three’s mobile broadband deals only deliver 4G speeds at the moment, but we expect the network to offer 5G download speeds as the network’s 5G coverage gets wider in the UK.

Three currently offers 1-month, 12-month and 24-month contracts for mobile broadband. You can get an unlimited data plan dubbed ‘All-you-can-eat’ starting from £22 a month, but you’d have to sign up for a two year contract.

You can use your allowances to call and text home and use your data in 71 destinations worldwide, just like you can with Three’s SIM only deals.

Three offers more than 20 mobile broadband plans, and you can bundle your choice of plan with a Huawei 4G Plus WiFi or Huawei HomeFi (B311) wireless router. Alternatively you can purchase a tablet with your plan too.

NameDataPrice
24-Month
Mobile Broadband SIMUnlimited Data£22.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM100GB£19.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM40GB£18.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM20GB£16.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM15GB£14.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM10GB£12.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM5GB£10.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM2GB£8.00/month
12-Month
Mobile Broadband SIMUnlimited Data£24.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM100GB£21.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM40GB£20.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM20GB£18.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM15GB£16.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM10GB£14.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM5GB£13.00/month
Mobile Broadband SIM2GB£10.00/month

If you want a home broadband deal, Three also has a wide variety of 4G and 5G broadband plans. Three’s Home Broadband deals are great, as they don’t require a landline or installation. You just plug in and you’re ready to go.

Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband Data SIMs

Three gives you four different options if you want to go with a pay as you go data SIM. All options come with preloaded data, meaning they’re topped up in advance and ready to use. You can top up your Three data SIM via your My3 Account or the Three App. Alternatively you can dial 444 from a Three phone to top-up using a voucher or debit/credit card.

You can use your Three PAYG data SIM to call and text home and use data in 71 destinations worldwide. Once you order, your Three data SIM should arrive in around 3 working days.

NameDataPrice
Pay As You Go + 2424GB - Valid for 24 months£60
Pay As You Go + 1212GB - Valid for 12 months£40
Pay As You Go + 33GB - Valid for 3 months£16
Broadband - 1GB1GB - Valid for 30 days£10

You can also order a free data SIM from Three, which comes with 200MB of preloaded data and renews every month.

Mobile Broadband Wireless Routers

Three currently offers two different wireless routers alongside their data SIMs. Both devices are produced by Huawei.

Huawei HomeFi (Huawei B311)

233x272+-+Huawei+B311+2Huawei’s B311 Wireless Router gives you access to the internet through a mobile connection and ethernet/network cables. You can connect to this router using a network cable or Wi-Fi and get high-speed internet services from Three. Just keep in mind that your download speed can vary depending on multiple factors, the key one being how good the coverage in your area is.

The Three HomeFi router comes with a 4G data SIM card, so all you have to do is pop the card into the back of the router, and switch it on. The router will set up everything automatically and you’ll have access to the internet in no time.

If you’re looking to purchase this router from Three, you don’t have to sign up for a long-term contract. You can stay with Three for as little as 1 month. Huawei HomeFi also supports up to 32 Wi-Fi devices at the same time.

If you want to change the Wi-Fi settings, you’ll need to connect your HomeFi router to your PC first.

What’s in the box?

Huawei B311 Wireless Router comes with a power supply adapter, a quick start guide and an ethernet cable.

Specifications

huawei-homefi-specificationsLTE Cat 4: 150/50Mbps (FDD)@ 20M BW Data service, LTE DL 2*2 MIMO CSFB, VoIP or VoLTE(2rd release)

DISABLED – this device does not support VOIP when connected to a phone via CAT 5 cable. Wi-Fi: 802.11b/g/n

Up to 32 simultaneous users/devices

1 POTS 1 GE

1 SMA external antenna optional

Frequency

LTE B1/B3/B7/B8/B20

UMTS B1/B8

GSM B2/B3/B5/B8

Huawei 4G Plus MiFi

4G++MiFiThe Huawei 4G Plus MiFi is a low-cost, portable option. It lets you connect up to 10 WiFi devices at the same time. You can game, stream content and download files wherever you go without having to worry about finding a reliable Wi-Fi connection or a power source.

The device has up to 6 hours of battery life under active usage out of the box, offering decent data speeds and network coverage. When in standby mode it can last up to 350 hours.

What’s in the box?

4gplus-mifi-specificationsHuawei 4G Plus Mi-Fi Router comes with a micro USB 2.0 cable (100cm), a quick start guide, a keep sake card with a predefined SSID and network key.

4G Tablets

You can also find a range of 4G enabled tablets on Three’s online store. These tablets can provide internet access via a 4G signal.

Three is selling flagship tablets from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Microsoft.

Network Coverage & Data Speeds

4G Coverage & Data Speeds

Three is a major network operator in the UK alongside EE, O2 and Vodafone. This means they have their own infrastructure and are not using another network to provide coverage. The network provider doesn’t offer any 2G coverage, but it’s not important in this case anyway, as 2G is not capable of delivering data to support mobile broadband.

Three offers over 99% 4G population coverage, however, in terms of landmass coverage the network is lagging behind its competitors. They are constantly improving their 4G network, but at the moment you might experience problems, especially in rural areas. You can have a look at our extensive Three Review to discover more about the network.

On the other hand, in terms of 4G data speeds Three is doing quite well. According to Open Signal’s April 2021 speed test results, Three’s average 4G download speeds are around 19Mbps, and upload speeds are at 8Mbps. This means their data speeds are close behind of Vodafone, although the latter offers significantly better coverage in rural areas and offers slightly faster 4G data speeds than Three. Vodafone still ranks second when it comes to data speeds, but the gap between the two is insignificant for the end user. We prepared an in-depth Vodafone vs Three comparison, if you want to discover more and see which network offers better perks, coverage and features.

EE is the fastest 4G network in the UK and they also have the best network coverage. The network’s average 4G download speeds are at 36.4Mbps and upload speeds are at 9.1Mbps. Check out our EE Review if you want to discover more about their SIM deals. You can also check out our EE vs Three comparison.

5G Coverage & Data Speeds

Currently, Three’s mobile broadband deals don’t come with 5G coverage. It’s understandable given how 5G isn’t available country-wide yet. However, if you have Three’s 5G in your area you can get a Three 5G Home Broadband deal.

Three’s 5G coverage in the UK is live in 194 cities and towns at the moment. The network has the best 5G infrastructure and more spectrum than all the other major networks. Looking at OOKLA’s (speedtest.net) network test results we see Three ranking at the top of the table when it comes to download speeds. Three’s average 5G download speed is at 201Mbps, this means they’re the fastest 5G network in the UK at the moment. However, another independent testing body with more recent test results, Open Signal, says Three are the fastest, but they also have the most 5G customers. This could explain why Three’s speeds are lower in the more recent tests.

You might also want to see which networks offer the best 5G SIM only deals, and we’ve got you covered with our in depth article.

Tethering

Tethering refers to turning your phone into a personal hotspot. This way you can share your mobile network data (internet connection) with other Wi-Fi devices. Obviously, when you have a wireless router you don’t have to worry about tethering as you can share your internet connection with as many devices as your router supports.

However, if you wish to extend the range of your mobile broadband, you can still use your handset’s tethering feature and create your own range extender. We strongly suggest going with an unlimited plan or at least a large data plan, if you’re planning to use multiple devices on a regular basis. You can read our “How much data do I need?” guide to figure out the ideal plan for you.

International Roaming

You can use your Three mobile broadband in 71 roaming destinations around the world. This includes most of the highly travelled EU countries, as well as USA, Australia and many other popular worldwide destinations. You can click here to see the full list.

Both pay monthly and pay as you go mobile broadband customers get the same pricing and Go Roam benefits, unless there’s a special offer. When you are travelling outside of ‘Go Roam’ destinations, please make sure to check the rates for your destination in advance.

Vodafone also offers great perks for international roaming, and we highly recommend checking out our Vodafone Review.

Half Cooked’s Overall Breakdown

Three Mobile Broadband is a decent choice and will get you comparable download speeds with a regular landline connection. Your download speeds will vary depending on how good your 4G coverage is and how many people in the area are also using the same network as you do. In ideal scenarios you can get up to Category 7 LTE speeds with the MiFi router (all the way up to 300Mbps download speeds & 100Mbps upload speeds), but in most cases you’ll get around 20 to 30Mbps.

When the coverage is far from ideal, your connection might drop and your download speeds can go as low as 1Mbps. However, this isn’t a problem unique to Three, as all mobile broadband deals can experience the same issues.

Half Cooked’s overall rating for Three Mobile Broadband: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Does Three Mobile Broadband have 5G?

No, at the moment 5G isn’t available on mobile broadband deals. Three doesn’t have enough coverage in the UK to offer 5G on the move yet.

Can I get a 5G broadband deal from Three?

Yes, you can. Three offers a 5G Home Broadband deal. You plug in your device and get connected in no time. You should make sure you get good enough coverage in your area before you commit to a 5G deal. Your network should warn you regardless, if your area isn’t well covered or at all.

How fast is Three’s 4G?

Three’s average 4G download speed is at 22.2Mbps. It’s fast enough to stream content in full HD, download games, movies and music. Obviously, regular activities such as checking emails and surfing on the web are easily done with no hiccups. If you want to stream 4K videos you might have to wait for buffering here and there though.

Can I get a pay as you go mobile broadband deal?

Yes, Three offers a decent pay as you go option for mobile broadband. In fact you can get a free data SIM from the network that comes with 200MB per month. Enough to check your emails on a regular basis.

Do I have to pay extra for a wireless router?

Yes, Three’s mobile broadband wireless routers require you to pay extra. However, you can even buy them in one go, no need to sign up for a long-term contract.