An affordable alternative to ADSL?

No primary category set

Next week I’ll be at the Catalyst conference and will take the opportunity to test a new product – 3 Mobile Broadband using a USB modem. For the last few months I’ve used the Skypephone for mobile Internet, so it’ll be interesting to see how the two compare.

3 have a choice of 3 modems for 1Gb, 3GB or 7GB data allowances per month. The modems are supplied free on a contract starting from just £5/mth and are also available on PAYG plans. There are a range of discounts for both new and existing 3 customers ranging from half price mobile broadband to free phones and unlimited text messages.

The model I’m testing is the Huawei E169G USB Modem. Installation was easy, taking just a couple of minutes. No need for any intallation disk as all the drivers are installed on the USB stick as a virtual CD-ROM drive. Simply connect the modem and it installs itself.

Once installed it gives a dashboard showing the connection, transfer rate, and totals for data sent/received. That’s important as there are three different price plans so you can keep track of your useage.

  It was slightly disappointing that the promised 3 meg speeds weren’t available at home, in fact the modem struggles to get more than 565Kpbs. In fairness I ran speed tests on my ADSL line and an NTL Cable connection which came out at 400Kpbs and 600Kbps – in comparison the 3 Mobile Broadband stacks up quite well. I’ll be interested to see the speeds available in London compared to out in the country. I guess I should point out that 3 are upgrading their network and expect to have Turbo Network rolled out to more areas by June to enable faster speeds.

One other useful feature is the ability to send text messages direct from your PC, it’s so much easier than typing on a mobile phone number pad. Admitedly your PC has to be turned on to receive replies, but it’s invaluable for the likes of updating or receiving updates from twitter.

I’ve turned the wireless card off on my laptop and for the next few weeks I’m going to test the 3 mobile broadband full time. I’m currently paying for two business ADSL lines for home and office costing around £50/mth so there could be real savings to make. The big question I’ll be hoping to answer is can you run an eBay business purely on mobile broadband?

16 Responses

  1. I got one of those just before christmas for £10 per month on a 12 month contract and with a free dongle.

    I find there handy for when away from home/office and also for backup when and if your main broadband connection goes down. I find the speed reasonable down to 3GL but it doesn’t work at all on GPRS so be sure to checkout reception in your locations before buying.

    I thought at the time I had a good deal with a 1Gb limit but now I’m wondering what you get for a fiver? 😕

    Oh, and I believe 3 are merging networks with another big provider soon (can’t remember which one) so patchy reception may be less of a problem in future.

  2. The fiver is for £1Gb/mth for existing customers that already have a handset contract with 3 (or new customers that sign a mobile contract 🙂 ). Otherwise it’s a tenner a month.

    The 3Gb/mth is is £7.50/£15.00 and the 7Gb/mth £12.50/£25.00

  3. My O/H has a 3 phone on 18 month contract and the mobile dongle is also in her name so technicaly she is an existing customer but I wonder if they will insist on her finishing the 12 month contract @ £10 per month before allowing her to sign up for the half price deal?

  4. I picked up a PAYG one on 3 for £50, minimum top up £10, itsd great as a backup or while travelling, no more paying rip off hotel rates for internet.

  5. Look forward to the results, will be in Spain for 6 weeks in the summer and still not decided what to do about broadband.

  6. if your aboard on the mobile broadbands, dont you pay a packet for this, as its not include in your domestic gb allowance. so might not be so ”hot” (excuse the lame pun) to use in spain!!!

  7. Lucky guys in the UK. Here in Ireland, 3 charge for the modem, and there are no offers for existing contract customers 👿 .

  8. Slightly off topic Chris, will there be wireless access at Catalyst?

    I am taking my laptop but it will be rather pointless if I can’t get online. Still grumbling about Catalyst being held on a Monday, what a daft idea 😕

  9. works great in rome
    I use it all the time in italy

    though its totally useless and a bulls lug in scotland

  10. As BT refused to give us a broadband line in the centre of Edinburgh (about 200m from our nearest BT Exchange), we had to find another solution for our new office location.

    We tried both the 3 Broadband using our phone (E61) as a modem and the Vodafone Mobile broadband offer, using their Express Card. The Vodafone solution turned out by far the better, especially with regards to speed.

    They are comparable to an average landline broadband speed, whereas the 3 connection was not. Also, with a datacard, we can use it in a special 3G Express card router, meaning we can use the connection with our three PCs at the same time. Great technology.

    Our verdict:
    Vodafone – best for speed and usability
    Three – not as fast but good coverage and can be used abroad on most contracts and in several countries without a surcharge
    BT – Don’t even mention them.

  11. 3 may be good coverage in Edinburgh if your in or around Hollyrood, Princess st ,George st, Royal mile, once you get out to Dalkeith, or Leith, or Portobello etc, you would be quicker using smoke signals or mirrors from the top of Arthurs seat


Amazon 2023 Stats and Performance

Amazon 2023 Stats and Performance

Ecommerce trends & decisive shift in digital marketing landscape

Ecommerce trends & decisive shift in digital marketing landscape

52% of UK shoppers think AI has improved their retail experiences

52% of UK shoppers think AI has improved their retail experiences

Are reputable shops selling fake stamps

Are reputable shops (and Royal Mail!) supplying fake stamps?

Deliciously Ella dish up pan-European distribution strategy with Huboo

Deliciously Ella dish up pan-European distribution strategy with Huboo

ChannelX Guide...

Featured in this article from the ChannelX Guide – companies that can help you grow and manage your business.


Take a look through a selection of the latest articles on ChannelX

Register for Newsletter

Receive 5 newsletters per week

Gain access to all research

Be notified of upcoming events and webinars