Three Mobile Broadband Buyers Guide

Competitive mobile broadband offering low prices, higher usage allowances and excellent 4G coverage

  • Higher usage allowances than many providers, with affordable unlimited data
  • Pay as you go or pay monthly with contracts ranging from 1 month to 24
  • Choose between USB dongles, MiFi personal hotspots or HomeFi routers
  • All tariffs include 4G at no extra monthly cost
  • TechRadar Mobile Choice Consumer Awards 2018 winner for Best Network for Roaming and Data

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Three Mobile Personal WiFi
£9.00 per month
24 month contract

No upfront cost

  • 2GB usage allowance
  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • Free setup
  • 24 month contract

Buy now

Three Mobile 4G Home Router
£22.00 per month
24 month contract

No upfront cost

  • Unlimited monthly allowance
  • No activation fee
  • 24 month contract

Buy now

Reasons to choose Three

  • 99.8% coverage for 4G mobile broadband data
  • HomeFi routers allow home broadband over the 4G network
  • Highest maximum usage allowance
  • 1 month contracts and pay-as-you-go mobile broadband tariffs available

Possible downsides

  • No 2G data, only available in the 98.3% of areas with 3G coverage
  • 14 day returns policy requires the hardware to be as new and unused
  • Extremely expensive out of usage allowance data
  • Largest inclusive usage allowance only available on a 24 month contract

Features at a glance

  • Up to 20Mb download speeds on 4G

  • Contracts from pay as you go up to 24 months

  • Usage allowances from 1GB to unlimited data

  • 24 hour technical support by phone or online

  • Free or subsidised tablets with some deals

  • Use Skype on your computer anywhere, giving you free calls to Skype users anywhere in the world

  • Free mobile broadband dongles with some deals

  • You will be charged at 1p per MB you use over your monthly allowance

3.1 stars
  satisfaction rating based on 338 customer ratings since 2018-05-19. See more Three Mobile customer ratings and reviews.

Details last checked on 2019-05-16

SIM Only

From £7 for 2GB to £22 for 40GB, nano SIMs available

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Personal WiFi

MiFi deals from £9 a month

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Short Contract

1 month contracts available from £10 with 2GB usage

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4G

Take advantage of 4G from Three on many deals

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Pay As You Go

From £10 for 1GB for 30 days, cost includes 1GB free

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Tablet Bundles

From FREE on a 24 month contract to full price on cheaper tariffs

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4G Home Router

Offer: Only £22 a month for unlimited data

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Highest Usage

Unlimited data from £22 on a 24 month contract

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Check Coverage

4G coverage 99.8%, 3G coverage 98.3%

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Details last checked on 2019-05-16

Customer Reviews

Sometimes the best way to get a feel for a broadband provider is to read what those who are already customers think of the service they're receiving. Below are all the reviews we've received for Three Mobile.

Customer Ratings Summary

  • Satisfaction
    3.1 stars
  • Customer Service
    3.3 stars
  • Speed
    3 stars
  • Reliability
    3.1 stars

Based on 338 customer ratings since 2018-05-19

Show all time ratings

Add your own review of Three

Ratings are left by users of our speed test as well as by reviewers. Recent star ratings summarise the last 12 months of ratings or the last 100 placed, whichever is largest.

Reviewer Location Reviewing Date Ratings
i live in tower hamlets in east london. three 4G is very weak and very slow. all the time signal is very weak and not fast 4g ongoing problem. three masts are too congested in our area. left three network after 6 months. every singla day and night i had problems with their 4G speeds.
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    5 stars
  • Speed
    1 star
  • Reliability
    1 star
East London Three Mobile  
This review is for the 3 HomeFi package on the Unlimited Data 24 month contract.

Been having ongoing issues with landline broadband for months. Despite trying 3 different providers, 4 different routers, both copper and FTTC connections (unfortuantly FTTP or Virgin lines aren't an option) I was only getting speeds of <1mb/s and constant connection droptouts yet my providers saying I was getting speeds of >40mb/s on their system. After Openreach engineers couldn't find any faults I decided to cut the landline and go 4g. Been with 3 HomeFi for about 2 weeks now and so far it's been the best decision I've made.

With this package you get a Huawei B311 router with a 3 SIM card inserted that when up and running works like any landline router. There are however some pros and cons to this packagage so I'll break my review down and highlight some of the pros/cons:

Hardware: As said the router is a Huawei B311. It's quite small so doesn't stand out like the monstrosities my previous 2 landline providers supplied. However it is quite lightweight and feels a little flimsy so I'm not sure about the lifespan of the hardware. That said though it looks pretty simple to buy a 4g router and just insert the SIM into that one if this ever breaks down. This is definetly a plus as although anyone on landline broadband can use a third party router it isn't always a simple task. With 4g broadband though it is a simple plug and play. Infact some might prefer to buy a router and data SIM seperatly (3 are currently offering a 12 month SIM only contract with unlimited data for £20 pm). The router is pretty basic compared to the ones supplied by landline providers though. It has a power and WPS switch and lights that show the stuatus of power, mobile network, ethernet, WiFi and mobile signal. However it only has one Ethernet port which was a bit of a let down intitially. Also 3 seem to have stripped down a couple of other features. It has a phone socket port so you should be able to connect a landline phone and make/recive calls via the SIM, but although the socket is present it has been disabled and I can't find a function in the router UI to activate it. There's a removable panel on the back of the router that reveals a SMA socket to attach an external antenna which can possibly boost mobile reception (and potentially download speeds too). However I get the impression by the size and shape of the removable panel and the fact that many 4g antenna are sold in pairs that there should be 2 SMA sockets and one seems to have been removed. But one absolute bonus to this router over a fixed landline is portability. All you need to get broadband up and running is electricity and a 3 signal so this router can be placed anywhere in a home (it may take a while to find the position with strongest signal though) and can even be taken on holiday (looking forward to not having to use hotel WiFi any more). Even though this router is a little basic there hasn't been a function it can't do that a landline router can't as you'll read below.

Software: As with any router you access the UI by typing the IP address into a web browser and it is very straight forward to navigate unlike some of the landline routers. It shows you the usual router settings that can be changed but also shows your current up/download speeds, number of devices connected, mobile signal and some other statuses. It also allows you to set data thresholds so you don't exceed any download limits. Additionaly you can download a UI app so you don't have to access it through the IP address and you can also set up a my3 account to keep track of data usage/spending and can download a my3 app too.

Connectivity: According to the manual you can connect up to 32 devices at a time and here's how I've found the different connection types. WiFi - The Wifi works like any other router by searcing for the connection on your device and entering the password. The range of the WiFi is brilliant, I can get a better connection 2 rooms away than I could from my landline router (back when I had working broadband that is). But this router only offers a 2.4ghz WiFi connection which can be very congeseted (not just by users connecting through your router but by other nearby routers) and doesn't have a 5ghz WiFi connection which pretty much comes as standard with fibre routers these days. Ethernet - As said this router only has 1 Ethernet port which initially was a bit of a disapointment. However it's ended up being something of a bonus. I repurposed an old landline router to work as a network switch and placed it behind my TV so I have the Ethernet cable from the router going to this switch. I then have 3 cables going from the switch to 2 games consoles and a Roku box so with the switch being conveniently hidden the 1 cable leading from the router doesn't look as untidy. WPS - This is the only connection type tht has been a headache. According to the manual to set up a WPS connection you just hold down the WPS button for 2secs until the WiFi light on the router starts to flash. However no ammount of pushing could get this light to flash. So setting up my WiFi printer was a bit of a mission. The printer was unable to find the network by pushing the WPS button or enabling WPS in the router UI. I was able to find the printer using the network settings on a laptop but it was unable to connect. In the end I had to delete the printer drivers from the laptop, reinstall and set up a WiFi connection by connecting the printer to the laptop using a USB cable and then enabling WPS through the router UI. But now it's set up it's working fine. SMA - As said there's a SMA connection that can be used to connect an external antenna to boost mobile reception. I haven't used this yet but do plan on buying an antenna to see if it boosts signal/speeds. You could also by an SMA cable so the antenna can be installed in the place of the strongest signal yet the router placed near the devices it needs to conenct to. Phone - It is somehting of a let down that the phone socket on the router has been disabled as although I rarely use a landline it was always nice to know it's there as a back up.

Speeds/Signal: One downside to mobile broadband is you don't get the minimum guaranteed download speeds that many landline providers offer. Although the router can in theory provide download speeds of upto 150mb/s you are never going to get anywhere near this and you will find that the speeds fluctuate rapidly. I have had download speeds in the range of 2mb/s with only 1 device connected via Ethernet but have also had speeds >20mb/s on a device connected by WiFi 2 rooms away with multiple devices connected at the same time. The reason the speeds can be so inconsistent is there are more variables to consider than through a landline connection. Signal strength and proximity to mast, router location, network congestion and even the weather play their part as well as the usual variables such as router channel and other other interferances you get with a landline router. It's for this reason that I've only scored 3 for speeds. However the upload speeds and ping rates always seem pretty stable. The uploads are consistently in their teens and the ping rates are usually holding in the 50's which is very respectable. Despite the varying download speeds it hasn't been an issue with using the data and I've had only one dropout in connection in the 2 weeks which is why I've scored 5 for reliability. With the router fresh out of the box I wanted to see how far I could push the connection so I had a Roku box streaming a film 2 rooms away, another streaming live TV 2 rooms away, a tablet streaming YouTube 2 rooms away and a mobile and a laptop browsing the net all while my son played Fortnite on the Xbox in the same room as the router. There was absolutly no buffering and crystal clear picture quality on the devices that were straeming and only a very slight lag on the Xbox which was fine because I'm never going to be transferring this much data on this many devices normally. The only time the inconsistent speeds have been an issue was when my son was downloading a 12gb game on the Xbox, it took hours and the display on the screen showing live download speeds showed you just how varied they can be with them jumping between 15mb/s and <1mb/s quite rapidly. This is the only time I've had a connection dropout as I tried to stream on a Roku box at the same time as this download and the router just couldn't handle it. So downloading large amounts of data is an issue but the speeds are fine for streaming and online gaming. The mobile signal the router recives will play a big part in the speeds you're getting as throetically the stronger the signal the higher the speeds. So the location of the router is imperative and ideally close to a window to pick up the signal easier from a mast. I checked the 3 signal for my address both on their website and the Ofcom website before purchasing and this is something I strongly advise as like I've said there are no guarantees for speed. You can also download apps that can show where the signal is strongest around you and like I've said there's also the option of installing an antenna (even outside and connecting to the router via cable) to get the optimal mobile signal. I'd also recomend keeping an eye on the signal strength in UI as the light on the router shows the strength by 3 bars and my signal has never dropped below 3. However the strength is shown using 5 bars on the UI and this was showing between 3-4 bars when I first set the router up despite the light showing full signal. I've now got the router in a positon where it's showing full signal on both the UI and the router.

Customer Service: I've scored quite low in this area as I have concerns about the customer service 3 provide if I ever needed it. Being mobile broadband this type of contract doesn't come with the guarantees that an equivilant fibre broadband contract comes with. As said there are no guaranteed minimum speeds. Also my last two providers offered 60 and 30 day guarantees that allowed me to leave the contract within this time without any early exit fees if I wasn't happy with the connection and both these guarantees were worth their weight in gold with the issues I'd been having. With HomeFi though there is no such guarantee. However you can return the equipment within 14 days providing it's unused and the small print even goes on to say that they will still consider the device unused if you've switched it on to make sure it works but haven't yet started using it fully. However it's important to note that this returns period is only granted for online/phone sales and if you were to buy the device/contract in a 3 shop you wouldn't get this guarantee. The contract with 3 also states that you only enter the contract once you insert the SIM into the device and it activates. So with this in mind I ordered a free PAYG SIM and loaded it with 2gb data @£10 so that I could check the router worked, could pick up signal and connect to my devices. I figured that doing this would be considered turning it on and checking it worked but if 3 disagreed and I wanted to exit the contract I would be able to as I hadn't actually gone live with my contract yet so would only liable for the cost of the router. I did need to contact customer services whilst setting up the router and it's because of this they've scored low in this area at the moment. When I put the PAYG SIM in it activated and picked up signal wihtin 5mins. But when I put the contract SIM in there was still no signal after an hour so I called 3 customer services. This ended up being a bit of an issue as the number that was printed on the SIM packaging was not recognised and finding a number for 3 customer services online was a bit of a mission. Once I did find a number that worked I was on hold for ages, when the call was finally answered the operator told me that as it's a broadband device she'd need to transfer me to the broadband team as she's in the mobile phone team, fair enough but I was then on hold for ages again. When I was finally put through I was told I'd need to speak to the faults team and yep you guessed it... back on hold. Whilst I was waiting for this call to be answered though the router finally picked up signal so I just hung up. It was obviously just the case that it took a bit longer for the contract SIM to activate than the PAYG one. So although it wasn't a major issue on this occasion I can see myself being given the runaround if I ever need to contact customer services in the future.

Summary: This router and contract has been a lifesaver after the issues with landline broadband that I've been having and at £22 pm it's comparable to a basic fibre broadband cost. However if you can get a decent fibre connection this isn't likely to be a viable alternative as the cost for fibre broadband also includes line rental so you can use a homephone which like I've said has been disabled on this router. There's also the fact that if you can get a decent fibre conection you'll likely have far higher and more stable speeds. But for someone in my position the speeds I'm now getting are a lot better and more stable than on my shoddy Openreach line. And the portability of this router is a massive bonus that makes up for some of the downsides this router has compared to a landline one. There are a lot of variables you might want to consider before entering into a contract of this length, not least the strength of the 3 signal in your area. If you don't want to enter into a lengthy contract though there are other options with shorter contracts. However these come with data caps, can be more expensive p/m and may also require a partial or full payment of the router. With this contract being £22 pm including the router yet a SIM only plan being £20 pm this does seem to be one of the few mobile plans that include the device for free rather than adding the cost onto the contract price. This is considering that although you'll be paying £2 pm less on the SIM only plan you'll need to buy a router yourself and the starting price of a 4g router on Amazon at present is £69.99 (TP-Link - reduced from £99.99 so it could go up again). That said the 4g routers on Amazon come with more features than this one such as extra Ethernet ports, a working phone socket and 5ghz WiFi signal as well as the 2.4ghz. So it could be worth the extra cost in buying the SIM and the router seperatly just due to the added features. For me though despite the basicness of this router I have been very impressed with how well it compares to a fibre router.
  • Satisfaction
    4 stars
  • Customer Service
    2 stars
  • Speed
    3 stars
  • Reliability
    5 stars
Chesham Three Mobile  
Applied for a handset was refused then bombarded by the sales team. They promised me a handset after 3 months of taking out an over priced sim card and paying on time every month. I did this when the time came they again refused the handset. When i rang to complain and asked them to listen to the calls they refused and also refused to refund my 3 months money only the last bill. Not budging at all and happy to rip off single mothers should be ashamed of yourselves. I will be taking this further, its not about the £ 48 you ripped me off with its the point that a company as big as yours shouldbt be allowed to rip off innocent people with bad credit. I will be leaving reviews where ever possible.. stay clear people ! £16 for a sim card with barely any GB few texts and minutes your so expensive the only way you can get customers is by lying and mis leading people disgusting you shove your offer of a waiver of £10 when the sun dont shine ill be posting on FB and insta and where ever possible!
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    1 star
  • Speed
    1 star
  • Reliability
    1 star
wales Three Mobile  
I had good service until I gave the notice to cancel my 4g mobile wifi dongle. Then problems started with my wifi.

This is ludicrous, others, take warning.
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
Wembley Three Mobile  
Awful service internets slow, customer service is poor and they hike up prices haha. Im swapping back to one of the other networks. Stay away all you can eat slow data
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    1 star
  • Speed
    1 star
  • Reliability
    1 star
Cambridge Three Mobile  
Very bad experience with Three Mobile. They make you buy a second SIM with a plan, when you buy a phone with them, so you end up paying your device, your normal package plan + another Plan for a SIM. Basically, it's their policy, so prepare yourself to pay! After two years paying my number and another SIM with a basic tariff, that I have never used, they make me cancel this other SIM plan (after the contract expired after these two years) and make me pay another £30 pounds, only to close this SIM, which, of course, I never used.
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    1 star
  • Speed
    1 star
  • Reliability
    1 star
London Three Mobile  
I went into the Three shop in Highcross, Leicester, with queries and problems that I had with my new phone. The two staff who helped me were outstanding; with so much knowledge and such a wish to help. They sorted everything, and it wasn't a quick fix, taking 2 minutes, but they had patience. So, thank you to Three. I would not hesitate to use them again.
  • Satisfaction
    5 stars
Leicester Three Mobile  
It took 20 minutes on the phone with customer service, that as the phone provider, they are the only ones who can give me an “unlock code”. Phones issued after 2014 don’t need one, but my phone was issued 2012. Why wasn’t that the first question they ask? Instead I have to argue for 20 minutes that I do need an unlock code, even the phone screen is asking for a lock code. The people at the call centre in India, talk over you and do not let you finish your sentences. ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE TO DEAL WITH
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    1 star
United Kingdom Three Mobile  
The worse company I have ever come across. All what they care about is your money. No consideration for customers. The automated system is been set in a way that if you want to cancel the service you would not get through.
I have been paying for 16 months for service I have not used and they admit that and there is no willingness out of good gesture for repaying my money back or even part of it.
I strongly advice everyone not to take any contract with three is just a ripoff, disgusting awful company.
I would just give ZERO, ZERO for all the ratings. And a copy of this letter with the details of my experience with three is been passed on to watch dog and trading standard agency.
  • Satisfaction
    1 star
  • Customer Service
    1 star
  • Speed
    1 star
  • Reliability
    1 star
Newcastle upon tyne Three Mobile  
I have been with Three for over a year now and have been very happy with them. I was previously with O2 and my bills varied from month to month - lots of small charges for things. But since moving to Three my bill each month has been exactly as promised.

The transfer was smooth and any support issues I have raised have been dealt with efficiently. And network coverage seems pretty good to me too. So, all in all I would recommend Three.
  • Satisfaction
    5 stars
  • Customer Service
    5 stars
  • Speed
    3 stars
  • Reliability
    4 stars
Glasgow Three Mobile  

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The reviews published on this page are those of the individual authors who have warrantied that they abide by our review guidelines. Reviews are not the opinion of Broadband.co.uk.

4G Home Broadband guide

Stuck in a broadband not-spot? 4G home broadband may be the solution!

Posted on 2019-02-15 17:37 in Features Offers 4GEE Three

Superfast Fibre broadband may now available across 95% of the UK, but there are still a lot of people who can't get it. You might be one of the frustrated few stuck in a broadband not-spot, with Fibre not yet available in your area, or - more annoyingly - it is available, but you're just too far from the street cabinet to see the benefit and are stuck with sluggish speeds on standard broadband over copper phone lines.

The solution to your problem may be simpler than you think.

4G mobile technology started rolling out in 2012 and is now available over 80% of the UK, and now mobile providers such as EE and Three are offering a home broadband solution that uses the 4G mobile network to provide users with speeds that can be comparable with their up to 36Mbps Fibre counterparts. You don't necessarily even need to be in a 4G area to get it, either - you can get respectable speeds in many 3G areas as well, plus there's the option to boost the signal with an external antenna if you need it.

What's more, Three currently have an amazing offer on that's competitive with even the cheaper Fibre broadband deals. For just £22 a month on a 24 month contract you can get unlimited data!

If 4G home broadband is something that interests you, we've put together a handy guide to the service that addresses:

  • What 4G home broadband is
  • Who it's suitable for
  • The speeds you can expect
  • The costs involved
  • Concerns about data usage

Read our guide to getting 4G home broadband.

Comments

National Average Speeds March 2016

Average mobile broadband speeds rising in 2016 while fixed line home broadband speeds coast at late 2015 levels

Posted on 2016-04-08 16:59 in Announcements News 4GEE EE Hyperoptic Vodafone Three Sky Virgin Media BT Post Office

Each month hundreds of thousands of broadband customers test their speeds with our broadband speed test. Since the end of 2015 there's been little change in average speeds from home broadband with average download speeds for March 2016 coming in at 20.41Mb and average upload speeds at 3.73Mb.

However, our test also supports users testing on tablets and smartphones, meaning we can report on mobile broadband speeds from 4G and 3G networks. While home broadband has been stable, mobile broadband average download speed has risen by a full 2Mb since December and upload speed by 1.6Mb, the average mobile broadband speeds for March 2016 were 15.31Mb download and 3.71Mb upload.

When the big mobile broadband and home broadband providers' average speeds compete on the same table, it's only Virgin Media's DOCSIS 3 cable broadband that outperforms mobile broadband, clocking in 46.95Mb, with upload speeds at 5.9Mb. 4GEE is ahead of BT Broadband with download speeds clocking in at 18.71Mb, faster than BT by 1.07Mb. 4GEE and Vodafone mobile broadband sit in overall 2nd and 4th places beating all home big broadband providers' averages bar Virgin Media, with Vodafone's 16.26Mb average mobile download speed only 1.38Mb behind BT.

Of the home broadband providers Post Office Broadband still has the UK's slowest broadband speed overall with only 4.38Mb average downloads and 1.67Mb average uploads, well below the average speeds expected for copper phoneline broadband. Three tested with the slowest mobile broadband at 12.09Mb downloads, but this still beat home broadband offerings from Sky and EE.

When the supplementary broadband providers table (see page 4 of the report) is included we can see that fibre to the building provider Hyperoptic tested as the fastest broadband overall with 91.7Mb average downloads and 77.3Mb uploads.

Read more Broadband Speed Test Results for March 2016

Comments

Three Mobile Broadband Buyers Guide - Is Three right for you?

Can I get Three mobile broadband?

Unlike other mobile networks, Three doesn't have any 2G GPRS or EDGE data service, so you'll only be able to access Three mobile broadband in areas with 3G or better coverage.

If you're in rural or remote areas and using a mobile phone handset, you may find coverage to be spotty. However Three have one of the country's largest 3G networks with over 98.3% coverage, so it's rare for towns and cities, and many major transport links, to have no 3G coverage.

Three offer a coverage checker that allows you to test any UK postcode for coverage on Three's 3G and 4G networks, with colour coding showing which areas have strong coverage indoors, and which will only get good signal outside buildings.

4G at no extra cost

All of Three's plans plans include 4G speeds at no extra cost. This is in stark contrast to other mobile broadband providers who require you to pay extra for a 4G tariff.

However, you must own a 4G/LTE capable device in order to enjoy the 4G speeds your tariff will include. Depending what tariff and contract length you choose, 4G-ready devices can be more expensive than Three's standard dongles and MiFis, which only support 3G.

Large usage allowances

Three offer unlimited data on some deals making them a viable alternative to a fixed line home broadband package for moderate users.

If you're in a broadband not-spot and can't get fibre, then Three's HomeFi router means you could get respectable speeds over the mobile network. If you don't use your landline for calls and you get good quality 4G or 3G connection from Three, switching to Three mobile broadband could free you from the need to pay for a landline.

Things to watch out for

As Three have a requirement that their hardware be 'new and unused' in order to qualify for the 14 day returns period, it's more important than usual to be sure before committing to a long contract.

Be careful to check all the postcodes where you're likely to use your mobile broadband to ensure there's good coverage. Especially make sure that places where you'll be inside a building have strong indoor coverage. If you're planning to use Three as your main broadband connection for the home, make sure that you have strong indoor coverage - standard 3G speed can be surprisingly slow in built up areas at peak times as it depends on how many other people are using the service at the same time.

Be sure to check that your monthly usage is less than the amount you're planning to sign up for, consider signing up for one of Three's unlimited data plans. If you go over your monthly usage allowance, you'll be charged 1p per megabyte, which can very quickly add up - however Three should inform you before you exceed your allowance.

Broadband.co.uk