Three Broadband review 2021
By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, April 13th 2021
Three Broadband (formerly Relish) is a wireless broadband provider that aims to offer 4G and 5G connectivity as your main home broadband connection. It is, as you might expect, owned and run by Three – that’s the same Three of mobile network fame. It’s a relatively new enterprise, having launched at the start of 2020, and as such hard to judge. Still, it’s definitely worth taking a look to see what’s available thus far.
One of the key selling points with broadband delivered via a 4G or 5G signal is you can be anywhere within range of a mast. Installation times are much shorter too, since there are no landlines to connect or engineering work to undertake. But how fast is it, where can you get it, and is Three Broadband as reliable as good, old-fashioned cables?
|Average download speed||20Mbps|
|Contract length||1 month or 12 months|
|Prices from||£22 per month|
Speeds and availability
Three’s 4G network is now available to 99.8% of the UK population meaning that you should have a good chance of being able to get it. There is a chance that if you live somewhere particularly remote or out of reach of a mast, you may be out of luck. You can check whether you can get Three’s 4G service by visiting the Three Broadband website and keying in your postcode.
5G on the other hand is a newer technology and as such is not yet as widely available as 4G, although Three’s rollout is happening at a rapid pace and is now accessible in over 150 towns and cities across the country. To see the full list of areas already covered by 5G you can visit the Three Broadband website.
Both the 4G and the 5G services come on a 12-month contract, with the extra option of a one-month rolling contract on the 4G service, which may appeal to some customers seeking a short-term home broadband solution. The 5G service is not available on a one-month contract.
If you’re lucky enough to get 5G home broadband from Three Broadband, Three is promising speeds averaging around 100Mbps. It’s not fast compared to the promises of 5G, but these are early days and things will undoubtedly get a lot quicker in the not too distant future. 100Mbps is plenty for any busy household, even if there are a lot of users streaming, gaming and so on.
If you can only get 4G home broadband for now, while coverage is superb you’ll be getting on average 21.6Mbps according to OpenSignal. It’s a bit faster than your typical standard ADSL home broadband connection and is plenty for smaller households. Ultimately, though, if you’re looking into choosing a mobile network for your home broadband, you’re probably getting awful speeds from fixed-line providers. 21.6Mbps to a household that can only get 3Mbps by any other means is going to seem rather quick.
Unfortunately, Three has a traffic management policy in place called TrafficSense. This is to make sure everyone gets the best experience and has a fair share of the network. It does mean you may experience slower speeds from time to time. Learn more about traffic management with our guide.
Installation and router
One of the great advantages of broadband that arrives over the airwaves rather than under the ground is that there is almost nothing to say when it comes to installation.
You’ll get your receiver/router and a SIM in the post. Plug it in and away you go. No waiting around for engineers, no additional costs for new line installation or set-up. Order, plug in, go.
Three provides two different routers to its customers with its broadband services depending on whether you sign up for a 4G or 5G service. If you sign up for the 4G service, you will be supplied with a Huawei b535-232. It comes with four ethernet ports so you can connect up to four devices with a wired connection to get the best speed possible.
If you sign up for Three’s 5G home broadband, you will be sent the more powerful Huawei 5G CPE Pro, which comes with a single ethernet port. This dual-band 5G router is capable of supporting up to 3.6Gbps download speeds, ensuring that you should have no problem receiving 100Mbps download speed with your Three 5G service. It also offers excellent wireless coverage around your home and can send a signal to 16 devices at once, ideal for keeping a busy online family connected without issue.
Three took over Relish back in April 2019 so it’s hard to get much of an idea of the company’s performance as a home broadband provider when it comes to customer service thus far. However, as Three is a well-established mobile provider, we can take a look at its performance to date from a mobile point of view.
As for a general customer service rating, as in most business cases, the bad news travels faster than the good. Reviews of Three on Trustpilot are the typical mix of those complaining about poor service, and those who are reasonably happy. Take all that with a pinch of salt, however, since people with an axe to grind are always the most vocal and telecoms is an odd industry in that regard. We want things to just work, and when they don’t we complain, but when they do there’s no reason to go online to sing a company’s praises. It’s just doing what it should be doing.
That said, Three scores an ‘average’ rating on Trustpilot, which is solid enough when looking at the network’s competition. In the grand scheme of mobile and broadband providers, Three does okay.
Customers can get in touch with Three Broadband by phone on 0330 686 8000, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can use the provider’s Live Chat service or drop a line via Facebook or Twitter.
Value for money
It’s not expensive. And if you’re considering Three Broadband as a provider, it’s more than likely you’re seeking an alternative to a truly horrible fixed-line broadband deal. That you can’t get good broadband where you live by regular means. In that context, Three Broadband’s prices are very reasonable. The equipment you get is good, the contracts not too long, and prices are comparable to fixed line solutions.
Even if you are able to get, and opt for, the 5G version and you’re getting an average 100Mbps, you’ll be paying less than you would for the same speeds from anyone else. Value for money? Certainly then.
If you live in one of Three’s 5G zones, Three Broadband 5G with its average speed of 100Mbps is actually great value.
Even if you can’t get 5G for now, Three Broadband’s 4G offering, which is available almost everywhere, will serve well if you are getting dire speeds from other providers. It should be noted, though, that you will have less choice as to where to put the router in your home. Generally by a window facing the signal source is recommended. Something to bear in mind.
Sure, Three Broadband can’t compete with the likes of Virgin Media in terms of absolute speed, but it’s certainly succeeding in doing things differently. And, who knows, some way down the line speeds could even overtake those offered by fixed-line broadband. The 5G technology itself is certainly capable of it.