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Three mobile broadband in Brighton (and elsewhere + B535 vs 5G CPE Pro)

planetf1

Regular Member
Is anyone using Three 4G mobile broadband in Brighton - for example using their Huawei B535 router?

I am currently using Virgin's 100/10 Mbps service in Kemptown, but over Christmas the service failed. Being away much of the time we couldn't arrange an engineer (it's now fixed) and used tethering to a 3 phone (unlimited) and it worked surprisingly well - getting around 30 Mbps on an iPhone 8.

Given it's likely we'll stop using that flat in the coming months / moving home, I'm thinking of getting a 4G router to fill the gap,as well as reduce costs/extend cable contract, and was wondering what speeds people were getting.

For those technically inclined (I am), the B535 and iPhone 8 have 2x2 MIMO - the new three 5G router, as well as devices like the iPhone 11 pro or iPhone XS Max have 4x4 MIMO and should easily beat this speed by 1.5-2 times. (I'm also using Virgin 1 Gbps at another property so I rather like my speed!) - so bonus points if you have 4x4 MIMO in Brighton.

Of course I know speeds vary, I'm trying to verify it's viable, and whether it's worth paying the premium to borrow(!) their 5G router- even for a 4G service. Additionally since I don't yet know if we'll move to Reading, Guildford, Worthing etc it's a bit of a punt!

Their 4G is 17 pcm/24m and 22pcm/12m for the B535 (both have current customer discounts of 5/month included in those prices), with the Huawei 5G CPE Pro coming in at 30pcm/12m - no sign of customer discount. need to ask.... So it's a def. premium but I'd pay it for 10 Mbps more !
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
It is very much dependant on the configuration of the mast you'll be connected to. Most Three masts don't (yet) do 4x4, though more should as they roll out their upgrades. Some masts won't get antenna changes that enable 4x4, so they'll remain 2x2.
Even just asking about 'Brighton', you're still talking about probably a dozen or so masts, each with at least 3 cells - all of which may have different configurations, usage, number of users etc. It's impossible to predict/say what you would get in your location based on other people's experiences. The testing you've done with your iPhone is probably the best estimate you're going to get.
FYI Three (nor any other provider) will give a timeline as to when/where/what upgrades will occur in their network, so it's more a case of hope/pray.

Also, I don't know if you're aware, MIMO is 'up to' - even if both the mast and device support it other factors may mean that it never connects at 4x4 - it could be 3x3, 2x2 or even 1x1 depending on the signal levels, number of users connecting, etc. It's not a given that more MIMO would result in a linear uptick in speed (though it should bring some)

As you may end up moving, it could be that place doesn't have great coverage, so you may even end up only connecting to B20 at very low speed, which would obviously be disappointing - there are still plenty of places that don't get good coverage or speeds, unfortunately.
 

planetf1

Regular Member
thanks...

And In another twist I called three to check for any discounts on the 5G hub (I didn't expect so, but always good to ask, as they do typically offer £5 off on many services for existing customers).

After being passed around a little I had to call 'three broadband' directly.

I had assumed their 5G hub + SIM would drop down to regular three 4G when out of 5G coverage - making it a top end 5G option as well as punt on 5G availability (albeit a price, and yes do understand the points you made about up-to)

It seems this isn't the case. Three broadband tell me that that the current setup is that the 5G network is seperate and the sim provided in the router will NOT connect to three's usual 4G service

Whether that means it's a different MCC id, or another form of restruction I don't know. I did realise 5G in london was using the relish sites, but I assumed they'd be integrated with the three network

Can anyone elaborate further?

I guess it's just a symptom of it being a little early in the 5G rollout so I may have to go with 4G and worry about it in months/year (but ugh.. 24m contract.. may need to reconsider). Or consider Vodafone - but tbh at 50/month without a known service it's too high a 'punt' price - though I do bet they have everything well integrated. Forget EE and their pricing regardless of network quality!
 

Darsuke

Pro Member
in months/year (but ugh.. 24m contract.. may need to reconsider).
If you're on the move soon you might as well just get a 30 day sim from Smarty or Voxi along with a dongle or cheap router.

Maximum fee is £20 p/m for unlimited data if you need that much.
 

GavinAshford

ULTIMATE Member
If you're expecting Three to roll out 5G with any meaningful coverage (outside of city/town center locations) in the next 24 months then I'd have to say you will probably be out of luck.

The 3600Mhz frequency doesn't travel that far (vs 1800/2100) and is subject to being blocked more (walls, etc).

I'd say 24months of 4G would be fine, unless you know you're moving to somewhere that definitely will have 5G (and not just one token mast so they can claim 'we have 5G here').

There are also 1month and 12month contract options with Three, but for more £ and upfront router costs, if you're still put off by 24months.
 

planetf1

Regular Member
Thanks @Darsuke - I agree, having thought over the situation. I'm likely going for smarty+a Huawei B535 - it's a pretty decent router for £100. I could go cheaper, but we could be using it in the flat for 6, 9 months - not just a few weeks. Plus afterwards, and working in IT I quite use my fast, unlimited connection (main Home=1 Gbps!)

I was probably overthinking it.

And @GavinAshford you're probably right. I need to take it one step at a time and not try and plan too far ahead given the unknowns. Three broadband are using somewhere around 2.6 I think.

Why not 24m? Because if I move I'll need faster... so unless it's > 100 Mbps it may be a stopgap in a flat I am at during the weekends/few days in week, to be replaced again by fibre/cable once properties sorted. And in the new location. Who knows if three will be any good. or vodafone. or if there's 5G. completely up in the air..

Thanks for the chats/advice though .appreciated to bounce some ideas around!
 

Mezcita

Member
@planetf1 Randomly stumbled across your post as I was using a B535 down in Brighton with Three's service. Like you said, the speed is going to vary based on your location. I found them best from where I was (Rottingdean). The trick is to get a free sim from them and then run a speed test.

In terms of their unlimited data sim, I went via topcashback to get money back on the contract. Then whinged to customer service about the speed (Roughly 26mbs). They brought the price down to £17 a month. So that is under a tenner a month after cashback.
 

Buggerlugz

ULTIMATE Member
When I signed up to Three's B535 unlimited plan for a year I was told in the shop that they do have free upgrade to 5g plans for existing customers in the future. Apparently they're looking at a offering a discounted 5g router for existing customers to purchase and keeping them on the same monthly payment.

Fingers crossed this actually happens. :)
 

TTJJ

ULTIMATE Member
When I signed up to Three's B535 unlimited plan for a year I was told in the shop that they do have free upgrade to 5g plans for existing customers in the future. Apparently they're looking at a offering a discounted 5g router for existing customers to purchase and keeping them on the same monthly payment.

Fingers crossed this actually happens. :)
Whilst your plan is already 5G ready at no extra cost, I can absolutely guarantee there's not going to be any discount 5G router swapout that will happen.
 
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