Dan Howdle | July 4th, 2022
Three Home Broadband is a wireless broadband service that leverages the mobile carrier’s ever-expanding high-speed 5G mobile data signal to offer next-generation cable-free internet access.
One of the key selling points with 5G home broadband is that you can be anywhere within range of a mast and there is no installation necessary. Just plug in the router wherever there is 5G coverage and you’re ready to go. No landlines to connect or engineering work to undertake. But how fast is it, where can you get it, and is Three Home Broadband as reliable as good, old-fashioned cables?
|Average download speed||100-260Mbps|
|Type||Home mobile broadband|
|UK coverage||50% (5G)|
|Contract length||12 months or 24 months|
|Prices from||£10 per month|
Launched in early 2020 in just 66 cities across the nation, Three’s 5G network expanded at a rapid pace and it now spans over 400 towns and cities across the country. In mid-2022, Three broke the symbolic 50% coverage barrier, which means that now more than half of the UK population can get home mobile broadband from the nation’s largest and fastest 5G mobile carrier. You can check whether you can get Three’s Home Broadband by visiting Three’s website and keying in your postcode.
Home Broadband comes on a 12 or 24 months contract, with the latter being usually significantly cheaper than the former. Three’s previous 4G home broadband service is no longer provided to new customers.
The maximum speed that the 5G Home Broadband can provide is 1,200Mbps, and there are multiple reports of customers getting above 800Mbps with this service. However, most customers will not be so lucky. The speed is going to depend on the distance from the closest mast.
Three used to advertise a 100Mbps download speed when the service was first launched in early 2020, but they have since removed that information from their website. However, independent measurements have placed the average speed on Three’s 5G network between 204Mbps and 258Mbps (according to RootMetrics, OpenSignal and Ookla). These are speeds that are otherwise obtainable only through full-fibre broadband.
It’s not as fast as 5G promises to be, but these are still early days and things will undoubtedly get a lot quicker in the not too distant future. These speeds are plenty for any busy household, even if there are a lot of users streaming, gaming and so on.
However, a price you will have to pay is slightly higher latency when gaming (21-26ms nationally and 17ms in London, according to Ookla and RootMetrics) and very mediocre upload speeds. Still perfectly fine for gaming.
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.
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 the 5G Hub router to its customers with its 5G broadband services. You will be supplied with a Qualcomm 5G SDX55M. It comes with two gigabit-capable Ethernet ports so you can connect up to two devices with a wired connection to get the best speed possible.
This dual-band 5G router provides wireless connectivity through the next-generation WiFi 6 technology that provides increased speed, reliability and lower latency for gamers. It also offers excellent wireless coverage around your home and can send a signal to 30 wireless devices at once, ideal for keeping a busy online family connected without issue.
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. In the grand scheme of mobile and broadband providers, Three does okay.
Customers can get in touch with Three regarding their mobile broadband service by phone on 0333 300 0500. Alternatively, you can use the provider’s Live Chat service or drop a line on Twitter at @Threeuksupport.
It’s not expensive. And if you’re considering Three Home Broadband as a provider, it’s more than likely you’re seeking an alternative to a weak fixed-line broadband deal. That you can’t get full-fibre broadband where you live. In that context, Three Broadband’s prices are very reasonable. The equipment you get is good and prices are comparable to fixed line solutions.
And if you are able to get network speeds north of 200Mbps at your property, 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 areas, Three’s Home Broadband is actually great value. 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. Definitely not next to a mirror or a fridge. Something to bear in mind.
Sure, Three Home 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.