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Three reviews

Three operates one of the four mobile phone networks in the UK, with a 12% market share. It launched in 2003 as the pioneer of 3G mobile broadband and continues to offer this service, alongside its faster 4G network, which is still rolling out across the country.

Customers are drawn to Three’s reasonably priced plans, unlimited data and the option to use your phone abroad for free in many countries. It’s not all rosy however, with reports of poor internet speed and performance, and fears that unlimited data could soon cease.

All provider package

Three pay-as-you-go

4.6

Free

Three pay-as-you-go
Three SIM-only

4

£8 per month

Three SIM-only

About Three

Three is a UK mobile phone network that was built for the internet. It was the first provider to launch a mobile broadband service and offers a wide range of call, text and internet plans for different budgets. Three is also an international brand name that covers several mobile phone networks and internet providers overseas. The UK division is wholly owned by Hong Kong investment holder, Hutchison Whampoa.

Plans and payment options

Three offers a full spectrum of mobile phone services. This includes pay monthly contracts supplied with a new handset, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) plans where you buy a phone upfront, and SIM-only tariffs to use with a phone you already have.

Three also offers mobile broadband options for tablets, laptops and other mobile devices. You can choose from data SIM plans, dongles, and handheld mobile wi-fi hotspot units that connect up to 10 devices to the internet at once.

A range of contract lengths

There’s a plan and payment option to suit every level of budget, with contracts lasting from as little as 30 days to as much as 24 months. Once you’ve used up your monthly allowance, you won’t be able to use the internet without buying an add-on, which helps avoid racking up a huge bill.

Three requires a credit check and Direct Debit payment with all services except PAYG, which is best suited to those with poor credit history or without a UK bank account.

Availability

Three’s 3G network is well established and widespread, but small patches of the UK remain without coverage. Meanwhile, 4G – which launched in 2013 – is still rolling out, with new towns and cities being connected all the time. You can find out what the 3G and 4G signal is like in your area using Three’s coverage checker.

Speed

A fast mobile broadband connection is important for efficient internet access on your phone. The download speed of Three’s 3G and 4G services is adequate but not the fastest around. They average 7Mbps and 17Mbps respectively according to Ofcom, compared to the industry averages of 6Mbps and 33Mbps.

Extras

Three offers some useful features to help you get online wherever you are and save money while travelling overseas.

Tethering is permitted on most plans

Using your phone as a personal wi-fi hotspot, known as tethering, is permitted on all Three SIM-only plans and pay monthly contracts. Tethering usage is limited to the data cap of your plan, or up to 30GB if you have all-you-can-eat data. Tethering is not permitted on pay-as-you-go plans or abroad with Feel at Home.

Feel at Home to use your phone abroad for free

Feel at Home is useful for holidaymakers and those who travel regularly for work. This exclusive feature allows you to use your phone abroad at no extra cost. It operates in 19 countries and includes calls and texts to UK numbers plus numbers within your Feel at Home country, and using the internet within your allowance.

Free unlimited wi-fi in London Underground stations

Three also offers customers unlimited free wi-fi on the London Underground through a partnership with Virgin Media. Commuters and visitors in Tube stations can get online in entrance halls, escalators and platforms, but not when travelling between stations.

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