Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Three things I learnt about 3 mobile broadband

Three logo

Moving house and being without a network connection for an indeterminable length of time seemed like a good opportunity to check out 3’s PAYG mobile data dongles.

The first thing to know is that although 3 are still advertising the Huawei D100 home routers on their website and in their stores, there haven’t been any in stock in Northern Ireland (Belfast stores and Lisburn at least) since Christmas, and the stores are holding waiting lists of keen customers.

3's Huawei E156G mobile broadband USB dongle

Second thing is that the data download speeds I experienced in Lisburn with the 3 dongle (Huawei E156G) were basically dial-up speeds – you could watch the BBC News home page downloading over half a minute or so. And downloading a short audio podcast was taking twenty minutes. Nothing like the suggested coverage. Only three bars out of eight on the GUI ... and it was killing all the USB ports on the Mac Mini after twenty minutes or so use, forcing a reboot.

The third thing to know is that there’s a three day return period for 3 mobile broadband equipment. (Unlike Orange which offer a more generous 14 days.) If you’re not happy with coverage, you can return the mobile dongle to any 3 store to get a full refund, not just the one you bought it from. (Though they had to ring up to check.)

So while I know some readers of AiB that have had very positive experiences with 3’s mobile dongles, I was unable to join the club.

And one last bonus learning point. 3’s PR team don’t seem to answer their emails ... well, the ones sent by bloggers anyway! Maybe they’ll get in touch after this post?


Anonymous said...

We moved into the centre of Lisburn in August and mistakenly got a three stick instead of paying for a unnecessary phone bill and broadband line. In one corner of my house I get 3G speeds early mornings and afternoon, but evenings and weekends are as you say.

Result? BT broadband is going live on Saturday

Mark Woods said...

Apart from the first 2 weeks (the time I could cancel) I've had problem after problem and issue after issue. It's only free credits which have kept me going. This service is oversubscribed, under maintained, customer services are appalling (see more below), 3 don't improve as a company year on year (as seen in online reviews). Far too many customers of which I am one are getting a totally unacceptable level of service.

In December 2010, respected consumer magazine 'Which' named 3 as having the worst customer services of all of the UK networks. 3 ranked 69th out of 75 across all industries.

An already miserable experience for many looks set to worsen in 2011 as 3 push their new unlimited downloads package for smartphone users. While the leading networks have opted to maintain a responsible approach which doesn't penalise mobile broadband customers paying for fixed allowances, 3 have chosen to once again demonstrate a complete disregard to customers by "spotting a gap in the market". Furthermore, 3 will permit tethering - which is the ability to use a sim card in any device, such as a pc or laptop. In other words, users have computer access to unlimited downloads and so this will inevitably worsen a service which is currently the poorest rated in the UK and subject to more negative reviews by customers than any other network in each year since its inception, which was 2008.

It's therefore clear that the only sensible advice to give to fellow consumers is to avoid 3 and take all business to a reputable network who are better equipped to service both you and your needs.