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Three UK Gift Unlimited Data to Disadvantaged School Children

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 (2:00 pm) - Score 16,152

Mobile operator Three UK appears to have followed Vodafone’s lead today by announcing that they will provide unlimited data (mobile broadband) upgrades to disadvantaged school children in England, which they hope will enable them to continue their studies during the latest COVID-19 lockdown.

The new programme is similar to Vodafone’s own schools.connected scheme, which is currently providing free Data SIMs, packed with a 30GB (GigaByte) allowance (valid for 90 days), to help 350,000 primary and secondary school children to stay connected with their education this winter. The key difference being that Three UK aims to provide “unlimited data“.

Under Three’s new partnership with the Department of Education (DfE), where a child is identified as not having internet access at home, their school can request free, additional data through the DFE’s “Get Help with Technology” programme. The unlimited data will then be applied until the end of the school year in July 2021.

Elaine Carey, Three UK’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“Education is crucial for everyone in society and it is vital no child misses out. Three UK wants to support those families that need access to connectivity to support their child’s learning needs during the pandemic.”

Obviously, such children will still need to be able to receive a good mobile broadband (4G, 5G etc.) signal at home in order for this to be effective, which will vary from place to place. Sadly, the announcement doesn’t mention if there will be limits imposed on how many children can apply, or in other areas, such as internet speeds and content access. Likewise, it’s not clear if Three are only providing the SIM or also a mobile router (probably just the SIM).

According this page on the Government’s website, Smarty, Virgin Mobile (Virgin Media), EE, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile (Sky Broadband) are also offering temporary increases in mobile data allowances to support disadvantaged children, but many of those won’t provide an upgrade to unlimited data like Three UK.

UPDATE 5:14pm

Three UK informs that schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for disadvantaged children and submit mobile information through this online service. More information on eligibility can be found on the government page linked in the paragraph above. The operator says they will then apply the unlimited data credit to the customer (both those on mobile pay as you go or contract SIMs) and contact them to let them know.

Three said they are not applying any restrictions to this, however, as per usual, parents can set up their own parental controls on their devices if they would like to restrict access to certain types of content. In short, this is an upgrade for an existing service, rather than a specific new SIM / service.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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27 Responses
  1. Lee says:

    Well, for 4g download speeds averaging 0.2 to 1Mbps if lucky, free is about all it’s worth.
    I know some people have a good experience with three but for me the duration of my two year contract has been anything but.
    They have been constantly promising a network upgrade which never materialises or if done, has made no difference.
    Yes they are cheap but why sell a cheap service you can’t deliver on?
    Three’s home broadband service in my experience is not broadband and is only good for light internet browsing and emails.
    I suspect their 5g where available will deteriorate over time as well.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Can’t see three’s 5g becoming anything more than “Fable” at this point. Everything in the last 12 months to come out of the company has been nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

      IMHO as a company three can’t be trusted to deliver on anything that comes out their PR department.

    2. Connor says:

      @Buggerlugz from what I’ve seen with Three 5G I’ve honestly been impressed.

      When they deployed on my local mast it matched EE 5G speeds but since they upgraded the backhual I’ve been pulling around 800mbps from that mast.

    3. JItteryPinger says:

      @Connor – people probably said the same about 4g until it started taking customers.

    4. Name says:

      What would you expect from network having single mast in the place where other operators have 3 masts? They are cheap because they are unreliable in most areas and it seems that they are not interested in building new infrastructure.

    5. Howard Walker says:

      Three cannot provide any service. My download speed last week was under 1mb and upload was 0.1.
      Their network us totally over crowded due to their unlimited broadband.
      This will make it even worse.

  2. Michael V says:

    Was wondering if Three would join in.
    My village speeds average 20-30mbps down & about 5 up.
    Starting to see LTE hit 150-200 around Cardiff this last month.
    Over my years with them, I’ve seen coverage & speed improvements.
    VoLTE across the whole network is definitely a welcomed adittion.

    1. Lee says:

      You’re probably the only one using their mast as you live in a village.
      Once a few more people sign on, speeds will deteriorate to a crawl.

    2. Michael V says:

      Hahaha! It’s just outside Cardiff & the main road is the busiest way into the South west of the city.
      If anything it’s a really busy cell site.

  3. Buggerlugz says:

    Just wish they’d give a well maintained mast network, appropriately managed 4g service and good enough back-haul to actually provide a quality service to their existing customers.

    Sorry Three, but “Gifting” anything that you’re plainly incapable of delivering to your existing customers to “disadvantaged school children” is nothing more than a PR Stunt at this point.

  4. Jack Ma. says:

    I hope they get better than the 0.5mbit I get today.

  5. The Facts says:

    Schools can use the below website to request free mobile data increases for families who don’t have broadband at home & can’t afford extra data for devices.

    EE, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile Three, Smarty & Virgin Mobile, are all taking part in the scheme.


    1. Pezza says:

      A very good idea, I’m sure the government will give them some cash back in some form on it though. But it should help with the lockdown, although I would suggest if they can that people go with EE.

    2. dave says:

      Where I live EE is in 3rd place for network performance, so is not always the best choice. Don’t buy their propaganda.

    3. JItteryPinger says:

      @Dave -according to who dave?

  6. JItteryPinger says:

    Hmm probably why Vodafone performance on one sector of Vodafone mast nearby has dipped suddenly.

  7. Craig says:

    Three network is crawling like a snail speed at the moment must be everyone at home bingeing netflix 4K just checked my data usage for the last 5 days 455gb used….. that 3 kids watching netflix and disney+ 50 inch 4k tv and one ps5 gamer downloading demos nonstop over 5G network…

    1. dave says:

      Ah the irony of a person complaining about the network going at a snails pace and then bragging about using 455GB in 5 days.

      A quick calculation:

      455GB over 5 days averages about 3.79GB per hour but presumably your family sleeps, in which case averaged over 16 hours per day it’s 5.68GB per hour. That works out about 12-13Mbps, which isn’t amazingly fast but is far from snails pace. I doubt your usage was evenly spread out over 16 hours either, so that means the network is actually faster than that.

    2. JItteryPinger says:

      Complaining about a mobile network having capacity issues when your using higher end of avg. fixed home broadband usage is a bit fricken stupid.

      Your set to use more data than me this month and I’m using a 350MB fix connection and I’ve downloaded a few AAA game titles and been streaming a fair bit myself.

      ps. my tv is bigger than yours, 100 inches and I don’t do consoles, I do big FPS, just while we’re sharing.

      What happened to that 500Meg you bragged about paying £13 a month for anyway, I thought it was leading the way and Virgin Media customers should be leaving and taking it up….

      Sounds to me like its already struggling with the limited number of customers its holding already, you really want a bunch of customers from Virgin who are used to having between 100-500mbps speeds?

      Also 160Mb upload??? As far as I was aware upload is currently still managed by 4G, and with the fastest upload seen on 4G (by me anyway) being 118mbps today on 4G Pixel 4a on Vodafone (Voxi) and most of the time I don’t see higher than 35-50mbps….

      So would love it if you could share the test results.

    3. Anna says:

      And yet I can’t get enough speed to do 4.5GB in that same timeframe – so yes maybe it’s people doing that sort of usage than need to wind it in?

    4. Anna says:


      I have a 3a and today I also saw about 130mbps upload for a few seconds and then it dropped to about 80 – I thought it was my phone but Voxi does seem mental on upload! I am getting 75mbps as I type this.

    5. JItteryPinger says:

      Hi @Anna,

      The trend at my end is these are local masts I’ve tracked and tested alot before now, the difference now is they’ve been upgraded for 5G.

      It makes sense really as 5G currently uses 4G for upload so showing off larger figures in that area is essential really.

      It’s kind of nice to get the upgrade despite opting to hang on to the previous generation a bit longer.


  8. Same old says:

    Another thread on 3 taken off topic by the usual suspect!

    1. Name says:

      No it is not taken off the topic. Three offer is more a punishment for disadvantaged school children rather than help.

  9. Rey says:

    Yes pls,I would like to recieved free unlimited data from uk3 for my children attending school.i appreciate if you include me for your unlimited data gift…

    1. JItteryPinger says:

      How is this going to benefit your children – serious question.

    2. moochy moochy says:

      it won’t he/she just wants free stuff. probably a labour supporter.

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