Can I get Three mobile broadband?
Three's 4G network is available to virtually the whole of the UK, while their 5G coverage is expanding rapidly.
4G coverage extends to some 99.8% of the population, although in some areas you might find that the signal is far better outdoors than indoors. This is always an important consideration when choosing a mobile broadband service, so make sure you check the coverage in your area before you sign up.
Our Speed Test survey shows that Three achieve an average speed of around 24Mb. This is broadly in line with most of their rivals, as well as entry level fibre broadband services. 4G+ is available in some regions, which can deliver significantly faster speeds.
The 5G network has launched in 66 towns and cities with more to come over the next few years. Three claim they'll have the fastest network, as they've bought more 5G spectrum than the other providers. All their SIMs are 5G-ready, so you can access the faster network on a 4G plan for no extra cost, as long as you've got hardware that supports it.
Can I get 5G on Three?
Three's 5G network is available in 66 cities and large towns, with more expected to be added throughout 2020.
The 66 locations where you can get 5G from Three are Aberdeen, Abingdon-on-Thames, Aldershot, Aldridge, Balloch, Barrow-in-Furness, Basildon, Bath, Bedford, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Borehamwood, Bradford, Brighton, Brookmans Park, Cannock, Cardiff / Caerdydd, Chatham, Clayton-le-Woods, Coventry, Crawley, Cullingworth, Derby, Doncaster, Dundee, Glasgow, Gorebridge, Grays, Grimsby, Guildford, Heanor, Hedge End, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Leyland, Liverpool, London, Lower Stondon, Luton, Maidstone, Manchester, Mansfield, Motherwell, Neston, Newquay, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Peterborough, Plymouth, Preston, Reading, Redcar, Royston, Sheffield, Slough, St Albans, Stevenage, Swadlincote, Swindon, Telford, Westhoughton, Wickford and Wigan.
The network is expected to reach more places in 2020. These are not yet confirmed, but may include Bolton, Derby, Edinburgh, Hull, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Rotherham and Wolverhampton.
What 5G mobile broadband deals are available?
Three offer one 5G broadband plan, designed specifically for home use as an alternative to a fibre deal. It's only available in London to begin with, and will roll out to other 5G areas in due course.
The Three 5G Home Unlimited plan comes with the Three 5G Hub. This Huawei-built device supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and allows you to connect up to 64 devices wirelessly at any one time. It also has a couple of Ethernet ports if you need a wired connection. The advertised download speed is an average of 100Mb, although your experience here will vary depending on how good the coverage is where you are - it may actually turn out to be faster!
There are two Three 5G Home Unlimited plans:
- 24 months for £29 a month with no upfront fee
- 12 months for £34 a month with no upfront fee
In both cases you get unlimited data. This compares well to other providers like EE and Vodafone, which put usage limits on most of their plans.
What other Three mobile broadband deals can I get?
If you aren't in the 5G area, Three have a range of other 4G home and mobile broadband plans to choose from.
For home broadband, you get the choice of two devices.
The first is the Huawei HomeFI Plus. This is a compact home Wi-Fi hub that lets you connect up to 64 devices at one time, as well as four more via a wired connection. It's available on three plans, all with unlimited data:
- 24 months for £22 a month with no upfront fee
- 12 months for £27 a month and £29 up front
- 1 month rolling contract for £30 a month and £29 up front
The second is the Huawei AI Cube. This AC-rated wireless hub handles up to 64 connected devices, and also doubles up as a smart speaker. It's got built-in Alexa support from Amazon, and you can use it to voice-control any smart devices you've got in your home. It comes on two plans, both with unlimited data:
- 24 months for £25 a month with no upfront cost
- 12 months for £32 a month and £49 paid up front
In addition to that, Three have a mobile broadband router that you can choose if you need to use it when you're on the road. This device is the not so catchily named Huawei E5573bs-322 4G Mobile Wi-Fi, which is the size of a credit card and delivers four hours of battery life. You can get this on over 20 plans, ranging from unlimited data on a 24-month deal to up to 24GB on pay as you go. It isn't a home broadband replacement.
And then there are some SIM-only plans that you can use with your own hardware, with usage allowances of up to 100GB a month. There's tablet plans, too, which is a great way to save on a new iPad - or at least spread the cost over a longer period of time. The data options here give you up to 40GB on a 24 month contract, or 24GB on pay as you go, with upfront costs.
Should I choose 5G or 4G mobile broadband from Three?
Three are already a popular choice for home broadband services. Because they don't come with any data caps they are a true alternative to a fibre plan.
5G Home Unlimited is an excellent option. It's fast, it's affordable and it's unlimited. But it comes with one pretty big caveat - it's available hardly anywhere. Despite Three having launched 5G in 66 places, you can only get Home Unlimited in London. And even then the availability is not city wide. If you are in range, with good coverage, then it's worth considering.
If you're in an area with a weak signal you'll still get a service, but it will drop down to 4G speeds. You could take a punt on the service being upgraded during your contract period, or you could just save a little money by choosing a 4G option instead.
The 4G plans are also pretty attractive. They aren't that much more pricey than an equivalent fibre deal, but you do have to be willing to choose a very long contract (two years) to get the best value.