3 USB Modem Review – First Impressions

When 3MobileBuzz contacted me a couple of weeks back and offered a 3 USB Modem for review, I jumped at the chance. A USB modem has been on my list of things to buy for a few months now, although I have always held back being unsure how good they actually are and how much data will I actually eat through each month. Now that I have my 3 USB Modem I can happily test this… for 3 whole months.

What’s in 3 USB Modem box

When the package arrived last week I quickly opened it up to find the USB modem (which is about the size of a USB flash drive), a USIM card which was attached to a credit card sized holder in the same way you get them when buying a new phone in the UK and a USB extension cable (along with a couple of instruction manuals that I never bother looking at).

Putting the 3 USB Modem in Action

To get the USB modem working you simply take the cap off the modem, slide out a small metal compartment, slot the USIM card in, slide the compartment back in to the modem and plug the whole thing in your USB port. The modem has built in software which is compatible with Windows and Mac. Once plugged in the software installation starts automatically and takes about 2 – 3 minutes to complete. On my laptop a reboot was necessary, but on my computer it was not. Once installed and ready you open up the 3 USB Modem software which then detects your modem. Upon detection you can then hit the blue connect button, wait a few seconds and you are now magically online… anywhere where you can pick up a 3 Mobile signal. Amazing!!! What I like about the software is that it keeps track of your total data usage so you know if you will exceed your limits.

How fast is the 3 USB Modem

Next to “cost” the biggest question is how fast does the modem work. In the UK, if you live in a “Turbo Network” area you should be able to achieve 2.8Mbps downstream with this modem. This area covers about 85% of the population in the UK currently. If you want to know your coverage at your post code you can use this checker.

I am in a “Turbo Network” area and can say that I have seen some great speeds. I will admit that it’s not quite as fast as my home broadband, but it’s not far off and definitely nothing to complain about.

What if you are not in a Turbo Network area though? Speed in these areas is still fairly acceptable and should be 350kbps+ which still isn’t too shabby.

How much does the 3 USB Modem Cost?

The price of the USB modem goes from free to £49.99 to buy the device and then subscription ranges from £10/Month to £25/Month. Contracts are available for 12, 18 or 24 months with more details here. For £10/Month you get the Broadband Lite package which offers 1GB of transfer per month. For £15 you are put on the Plus account which will allow you 3GB of transfer per month. For the full £25 you get 7GB of data transfer per month. This is probably where my internet usage would fit in as the Data Calculator estimates me using just over 4GB of data transfer per month. To put their calculator to the test what I am doing as of today is dropping my home broadband connection in favour of the USB modem to see exactly what I use per month with my surfing habits at home and while on the move.

If you are a customer of Three in the UK then you can get a great deal on a USB modem by picking up the subscription at half price. You need to sign up before 31st May 2008 to participate in this offer.


After using the modem for about a week now, I can honestly say it has been as good as I had hoped for. Of course I need to give it a better test by jumping on a train, sitting in the back of the car while being driven from Leeds to Blackpool and testing to see what connectivity is like while moving. What I do hope is that there will be not too much interruption to services 🙂

I will do a follow up post in a couple of weeks to let you all know how it went.


  1. connection while moving is fine 😀 i was in the car and got almost constant 3g network on the moterway eaven in the countryside!

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