14 July 2021- Three 5G Broadband

For quite some time I was forced to accept terrible speed, reliability and customer service from Virgin Media as there was no other provider able to provide comparable speeds (not that I actually received the claimed speeds very often from Virgin) in my area. Thankfully now this has all changed with the arrival of Three 5G Broadband.

As the name implies, the broadband is provided not through a copper phone line, cable or fibre, but rather via the 5G Mobile network. You get a router just like you would for any of those other options, but instead of plugging into a phone/cable/fibre socket it contains a SIM card just like your mobile phone. So, is it any good ?

Setup was fairly quick and easy, although one slight gripe is that you are not able to change the IP address of the device, and it's not the often-used, so if you use fixed IPs on your network, or for any reason specify your default gateway manually, then you might have to jiggle things around a bit. The unit will use a 5G signal where there is one, or fall back to 4G which will obviously give much lower speeds. This is almost certainly not going to be your best option for Broadband if you cannot get a 5G signal. If you look at the coverage map, my house falls in an area marked as "partial" coverage, meaning the signal is not as strong as it would be if I were closer to a 5G mast. However, so long as I place the router next to a window rather than the other side of the room, I have found I AM able to get a constant 5G signal.

Speed is generally quite impressive for downloads, less so for uploads. For downloads I nearly always get in excess of 220Mbps, and I have tested it as high as 350Mbps. Upload speed is more typically around 20-25Mbps, and ping time generally around 17-25ms. Given that everyone else in my house only ever downloads (streaming, web browsing etc.), and it's only me that needs significant upload bandwidth, this is basically plenty for both upload or download.

Customer Service has so far been a lot, lot better than Virgin Media ever was, although admittedly that is a very low bar. It's possible to get through to a real person in under a minute, and that person has been fairly knowledgeable and genuinely helpful. It remains to be seen of course whether this, or indeed the speeds you can achieve, continues as their customer base grows in size.

Cost-wise, at £36/month for truly unlimited data at the speeds mentioned above it's cheaper than Virgin Media were, and in fact at the time I signed up they were offering the first 6 months half price.

The other nice feature is that if you are going away somewhere (in the UK) then you can unplug the router and take it with you. So long as there is a 5G signal, you can have the full power of your home broadband with you wherever you are and at no extra cost.

So, do I recommend it ? Definitely !