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Three UK Launch “super-fast” 21Mb Capable E3231 Mobile Broadband Dongle

Posted Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 (9:01 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 4,906)
huawei e3231 three uk

Mobile operator Three UK appears to have shunned new advertising rules by unveiling its new Huawei E3231 USB Dongle (Modem), which its press release questionably claims can offer “super-fastMobile Broadband download speeds of up to 21.1Mbps using its latest HSPA+ (3G) technology.

On Monday the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was allowed to extend its guidelines, which were introduced earlier this year to tackle misleading promotions of fixed line broadband ISP speeds, to mobile data providers (here). The rules won’t come into force until 1st November 2012 but you would have thought that existing operators might at least start to take some notice.

Sadly this appears not to be the case with Three UK’s PR boldly claiming that its new “E3231 [is] capable of download speeds of up to 21.1 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5.76 Mbps on [our] HSPA+ mobile network“. In reality the speed figures, which are incidentally below the government’s official 24Mbps+ definition for “super-fast“, is only a reflection of the modem and networks theoretical capability. The vast majority of consumers will typically receive significantly lower real-world speeds but there’s nothing in the PR about that.

Mark Mitchinson, Huawei UK’s Executive Vice President, said:

Huawei is committed to delivering innovative and easy-to-use data products across all categories – smartphones, mobile broadband and home devices. We have a long and productive relationship with Three. The new Huawei E3231 will enable consumers to take even greater advantage of its fast data network in the home and on-the-go.”

None of this criticism is to say that the new E3231 dongle is bad, in fact it’s probably one of the better budget focused USB modems out there right now, although it also serves as a useful demonstration of why it’s so important for Mobile Broadband operators to reflect realistic instead of theoretical performance.

According to the ASA, Three UK and other operators must soon be able to demonstrate that their advertised speeds are achievable by at least 10% of their customers. Most surveys seem to suggest that the average Mobile Broadband download speed is still hovering around the 2-3Mbps mark, which varies dramatically between different locations.

Meanwhile anybody interested in picking up the new dongle will find that prices on Three UK start from just £7.87 per month, which includes the modem, a 1GB monthly usage allowance and ties you in to an 18 month contract. Thankfully bigger usage allowances of up to 15GB are available from £15.99 per month on a 24 month contract.

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17 Responses
  1. DanielM

    Tmobile have had this for weeks.

  2. DTMark

    1. Define what broadband is. Suggest 10Mbps down 1Mbps up to begin with. A very low bar.

    2. No product can be advertised mentioning “broadband” unless it can deliver it to *everyone* who orders it at least 90% of the time.

    3. Increase the definition of “broadband” by 1Mbps down and 0.5Mbps up each year.

    Job done.

  3. FibreFred

    Broadband has been defined for years as above 256k+

    • Sadly the term “broadband” can, it appears, have different meanings depending upon the context and your country at any given moment in time.


    • DTMark

      Looking at that article it’s clear that current technology restrictions have played a part in an attempt to define “broadband”.

      For instance “superfast is > 24Mbps” – where did 24Mbps come from? A figure plucked from the air? Or something to differentiate it from the peak ADSL2+ speeds? But, what have “peak ADSL2+ speeds” got to do with it?

      The “broad” in “broadband” is the key here. 2Mbps is not broadband. For current purposes about 6Mbps+ could perhaps be considered to be “broadband” but 10Mbps would be more appropriate. We’re still talking really basic speeds here.

      The technology has, or should have, nothing to do with the definition; BT’s definition in that article is hilarious – the “up to” speeds from the clapped out old phone company again. It suits BT and BT alone that people seem to have come to think that “broadband” is “any connection to the internet” or “a phone line capable of supporting a DSL based service”.

      Current generation is circa 30Mbps part-fibre based technology widely available with the now quite old cable network, and BT’s “FTTC” as they play catch-up and finally offer a competing product. Sometimes. If it’s available. And the line is short enough. And it doesn’t have knackered old “crimps” and aluminimum.

      Next generation is fibre to the home.

    • FibreFred

      DTMark, those are your views though 😉 if you Google up its definition you will find most state 256k and above.

      Superfast broadband is super woolly. But broadband has never been referred to as 6 or 10Mbps as far as I’m aware, apart from by yourself like…

    • DTMark

      Virgin Media appear to define “broadband” as 30Mbps. Used to be 10Mbps, was that way for a long time. Just a very basic service, the cheapest package available. Hardly a challenge to supply.

    • FibreFred

      Virgin also call their service fibre broadband 😉

    • Happyness

      faster than 256k i find no reference. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=what+is+broadband+internet

  4. to say that 2Mbps is not broadband is simply rubbish.

    Broadband is in the eye of the beholder. For lots of people who frequent this site, I accept that 2 Mbps is far too slow for them. However, for millions of others out there 2 Mbps is fine and they would not notice 20 Mbps even if they had it.

    • DTMark

      Another subjective term is “Hi-Fi” as in high fidelity.

      But then the “hi” part of that changes over time, like the “broad” in broadband.

      Would a 1970s Hi-Fi system be a Hi-Fi system today?

      It’s not about what “just suffices” or “what’s adequate”.

    • FibreFred

      So Mark are you saying in years to come if the resolution of HD-TV’s in the future increase (no doubt it will) are 1080p TV’s no longer worthy of the HD-TV title?

      Broadband is Broadband, superfast, megafast are all just marketing terms. The most common definition of broadband is 256k and above, why would that ever change? It is still broadband no matter what the future delivers.

    • DTMark

      “in years to come if the resolution of HD-TV’s in the future increase (no doubt it will) are 1080p TV’s no longer worthy of the HD-TV title?”

      Yes, correct. Because “high” is a *relative* term, not an absolute. Like “broad” as opposed to “narrow”.

      My first cablemodem over a decade ago ran at 512kbps. That was broadband back then as opposed to dial-up narrowband.

  5. zemadeiran

    We should set up a national petition in order to specify the new reference to very fast internet access.

    I propose “tripthelightfantasticband”

  6. DTMark

    Actually, coming back to the article for just a moment 😉

    What does this great new gadget do that the older E367 does not, which improves performance?

  7. kds

    Three is rubbish, works ok up north in London hardly make phone calls

  8. Firegod247

    I love how everyone complaining here clearly doesnt have a clue what “broadband” even is lmao, broadband is not depicted by the speed you recieve, broadband relates to the frequency signals that are used and broadband uses a “broad” range of signal that is a higher frequency and bigger signal use than the telephone frequencies etc………please get your facts straight before you try to complain lol otherwise you sound like a complete idiot haha

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