One thing that bothered me straight away is that the first time that I connected each day, after I typed in the address of the web site that you wish to go to, I was first taken to a page that says - "You are about to browse the Internet which is charged per MB." I presume that this is because my press sample was set up as a basic per MB account and that users with a monthly plan would not see this.
On my initial test I noticed a decided improvement over the very old Orange standard 3G data card that I am used to. However, despite getting a few bars, which indicated quite a strong signal I noticed that frequently web pages would just stop loading and I would have to stop the page and refresh, to get it going again.
As for the advertised 2.8Mbps speeds, I'm afraid I got nowhere near that. At home I am in a 'Turbo' area, and the software indicated this on connecting by displaying 'HSDPA'. As the laptop I was using didn't want to load the Java based tool at www.thinkbroadband.com I headed off to www.speedtest.net. Selecting the London pyramid, I initially achieved a speed of 413Kbps and an upload of only 57Kbps - disappointing. The ping was 317ms, so not great for gaming. I then tried other download locations from the selection of natty looking pyramids and the fastest turned out to be Brussels, just breaking the 1Mbps barrier with a download speed of 1,097Kbps. Ok, it's nowhere near the 2.8Mbps headline figure, but wireless internet access at speeds of 1Mbps for a tenner a month is not to be sniffed at.
I then set about doing stuff you might want to do online. Windows Live Messenger worked without issues and browsing YouTube was fine too. I also tried firing up a Torrent - uTorrent's built-in test informed me that Port Forwarding was not set up so speeds were glacial.
Generally speaking, I was pretty pleased with the flexibility of having the 3 service, but I was only moderately impressed by the performance. With a 2.8Mbps advertised top speed I was expecting it to be lightening quick and I never really found it to be.
As such, I would be reluctant to rely on it to completely replace my fixed line - it just isn't as fast or stable. However, if you're just looking for something to get online with when you're out and about on your laptop, and your usage is limited to email, and light web browsing with the occasional video, then 3's £10 a month deal is good value.
3's Mobile Broadband offering gives you flexible internet access for not too much cash. While at best we never got near the headline speeds of 2.8Mbps and at worst performance was lacklustre, most of the time it works well, making it the best value mobile broadband offering currently on the market.