back to article 3 has no place Like Home

3, recently heard shouting that it wants to see termination fees cut, is quietly dropping its 3 Like Home tariff, which offered international roaming with no additional fees. The tariff will cease to exist at the end of June, though punters who recently renewed on the basis of the service, and have made use of it, should be able …

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Why the cynicism?

You wrote: 3 Like Home offered a simple way to reduce the cost of using data abroad, so obviously it had to go. This is cynical in the extreme. The single fact of the matter is when roaming off its 'home' network- while you can modify handset settings to connect to networks in order of choice (incl. the various 3 international networks), in most cases you cannot specifically exclude a handset from connecting to a much stronger signal from a different network.

The GSM Network Information broadcast by cells, complies with GSM standards- which specify a territorial code. Its not the case that '3' could broadcast the equivalence of multiple identical international SSIDs- locking a handset to its SSID, and implementing a defacto 'international ban' on roaming on other than its own network. Perhaps its a path they may explore in future- but as it stands its simply not open to them.......

Having been stung by accidentally wandering onto the wrong network- I'm a big fan of upfront fees when abroad- irrespective of what network one might happen to be on.

Perhaps its time to revisit the GSM specs?

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Raj
Unhappy

Gits

I often travel to an area of Northern Ireland where there is no 3G network (from any of the networks) but 3 had a signal from over the border in the Irish Republic. I bought a 3G USB modem from 3 specifically so that I use that signal via the 3 Like Home scheme, since they seem to be in no hurry to roll out 3G to rural areas.

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Bronze badge

@Shane

Umm....all the handsets I have ever had, where I used the 'abroad' and had to look, had the option to set the network manually. If the network I chose fell out of range then I had no signal. Maybe current generations of 'smart'phones are too clever to allow that to happen as it would stop the providers making money.........or am I being too cynical as well.

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Why else be with 3?

This was the only reason I kept a contract with 3 due to occasional trips to Sweden where the tariff applied. They have the worst handset selection, terrible call centre staff, abysmal broadband in the UK and not very competitive call prices. It even costs more to call a 3 phone from some other providers (Vonage for example charge 20p/min for calls to 3 and 12p/min to other providers). Less than 24 hours after I got the text message notifying that this service was ending, my contract was in its 30 day cancellation notice period and the SIM card was in the dustbin.

@Shane McCarrick

I have to agree with your initial sentiment here. Three introduced the service in full knowledge that it included data so why did it 'have to go'?

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three call centre

having just migrated myself and wife to Three, I'd have to say that Gerard Krupa must have been unlucky, or be working on outdated information.

I've spoken to Three's cust serv four times and they've been polite and helpful and pleasant to deal with: first was when I got connected and had a problem with my credit card, the second to give a PAC code, third to sort out a problem with wife's SIM (the only time they made a mistake) and fourth when they rang me (as promised) to confirm that they'd sorted everything out and called me.

Calling Three's CS was free, they answered promptly too; with my previous carrier Virgin Mobile they charge you when you call, and if you email them through their site it can take 36 hours to get a reply!

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3 call centers

from my own experiance (ex 3 customer) their call centres are perfectly helpfull, unless you are trying to leave, then they will do all they can to try and stop you.

(which to be fair, is much like any other network i guess)

when i left last year, it took me nearly an hour to get my PAC so that i could migrate to O2, in the past when arranging for PAC's (from other networks) it has taken at most 10 mins.

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@Kevin Johnston

Quite correct, I'm not sure which mobile phones Shane has been using, but every Nokia I have ever owned has supported maual network selection. Currently that's an N95, so a reasonably new smart phone.

I'm actually sad enough that I've checked out the tariffs in advance before travelling abroad and made a list of preferred networks to use! (Getting the tarriffs can be a bit of a battle though!)

Oddly enough when I was in France a few years ago it was better for me to use any network other than Orange FR... Even though I'm an Orange UK customer!

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Stop

three

ok I'm just a poor student....well i have mates on Vodafone paying £40/month on an 18 month contract for 1GB data and a few mins....

On my 3 PAY AS YOU GO phone, I have Skype (routed like a normal call rather than as data, quality must be heard to be believed), unlimited MSN messenger, push email, Youtube and mobile TV...I'm using an SIP client (freecall.com) and get free calls to all of jew-rope....plus I can tether via bluetooth and have upto 3GB of internet on my laptop, in fact I'm typing this through that connection now...for the privelege I pay £5 a month, the months that I feel like it....

Beat that and I'll by jew a drink...

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no place like $HOME ?

> Roaming data remains prohibitively expensive

Perhaps someone should introduce them to this thing called "The internet". I believe it has facilities to send data cheaply to strange countries these days.

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Paris Hilton

I'm free of 3!

I got ****** over by "3" when they launched (mislead over their lack of internet connectivity and unusable coverage)... Really thought they might have changed so moved a few prepay phones over to them in March.

Pretty impressed by the mobile internet, coverage is better than a few years ago but still very poor in places (the phone will stick to an unusable 3G signal when there's full 2G (Orange) coverage. Calls still drop or fail to connect etc). They also allow call divert on prepay which is nice. On the whole, decided to pay a little more and move them to Vodafone who are offering free roaming this summer right across Europe. Glad I did now.

This must be "3" shooting their own foot though? Really, apart from being cheap (on all levels), what else do they have?

Paris.... 'cos that's where the phone is!

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@Kevin Johnston

With regard to setting the network manually - my last two handsets from 3 had been modified to remove this feature. Even if you do manage to set the network manually temporarily it will automatically switch back to what it thinks is best (which, in my experience, means the one network that doesn't seem to offer a data connection at all). They also remove the option to disable the data connection (the "connect when needed" option either has no effect or has been surgically removed from the menu).

This may not apply if you buy a handset for use on 3 rather than using the 3-provided one, of course.

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Does 3 in the UK roam onto another network?

Here in Aussieland once you are out of the capital cities, 3 will roam onto another providers network, which obviously 3 will have to pay for.

So I think this is the cause of the lack of network selection. 3 want to control how you roam, trying to keep you within their network, and the money in their own pocket.

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Not in Australia

This might just be 3 UK that is dropping 3 Like Home - It's still detailed (without any termination date specified) on the 3 Australia website.

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Stop

@ Kevin & Steve

While most phones might allow you to set the networrk manually, they don't necessarily save the setting between power-offs, or even remember a 'preferred' network to revert to when in range.

I have an LG mobile on contract through 3 Australia and spent last year in the UK. I renewed my contract before moving to the UK because of "3 like home" but the service worked so poorly I essentially stopped using my phone. I was forever dropping off 3 simply by moving around the office/house, and the phone would always start up on the strongest network when powering on, or moving out of a no coverage area (we lived in the SW). Since the phone polls the network on connection for messages, most of the time when I did receive a message it came through on Vodafone while I was still trying to set the phone to 3. Travelling around London was even worse - on one Tube journey you might jump over several different networks, most likely none of them "3".

Of course 3 also have the disgusting habit of selling contract phones permanently network locked, which they cannot provide unlock codes for even when long since paid out. The only reason I stay with them is that the 7 year old plan (previously an Orange CDMA plan) I have is much cheaper than anything now available for my minimal usage, and they have a decent national roaming agreement with the country's largest (best coverage) network for calls and sms, which is all I use anyway.

Back on topic, "3 like home" was a big selling point, and if it had worked I would be very annoyed at it ending. Unfortunately, if my experience was typical, the service is rubbish, and will be missed more by those who planned to use it than those who actually tried.

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Anonymous Coward

This never worked from Sweden

My other half went to Sweden - looked at the handset - it would say '3' - but during the call would switch to another carrier. We complained and managed to get the money refunded - but for me it shows that they released a service which simply never worked.

It was never shown to be 'Promotional' and pullable at any time. The leaflet also shows the arrows going the wrong way which implies that calls TO Sweden would be in your package which it isn't.

Business customer service has been OK - but the signal is not the best here in Plymouth.

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Three call centre staff

@nick

It's when attempting to leave or change my tariff that I've had problems with them (or more specifically when the were desperately trying to extract every last penny they could). They are 9 parts salesman to 1 part customer support and have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to sell me things I didn't want or need, and have resorted to outright lies in doing so.

When I canceled, the guy tried to convince me a should pay £8/month for an emergency spare phone (yeah, £8/month for emergencies) with 3 after I told him I'd already signed up with a new provider AND already had a spare PAYG SIM for emergencies.

When I'd previously tried to change my price plan in March the guy tried his best to convince me I needed to sign up to a new 18 month contract because my minimum period hadn't expired. When I asked what date my original contract expired on, it turned out it was the very next day and I could change tariffs in 24 hours without committing to anything.

And from mildly misleading to outright deceptive, when trying to convince me to sign up for a broadband contract a CS guy straight out lied to me and told me that I couldn't use my phone for tethered broadband despite my N95 being quite capable of HSDPA, and the fact that I had a 3Gb broadband add-on (one specifically meant for using the phone as a modem).

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OK when it worked

When a family member went to Australia for 6 months she bought a 3 phone to keep in touch with the UK. Initially she had lots of problems with the three like home service. Calls would often fail to connect and not be put through to voicemail. When they did connect the call was clearly being routed via over compressed voip making it impossible to hold a conversation. She often couldn't make calls as the handset would refuse to register with the network.

On more than one occasion calls to her handset were connected to a recording that I can only assume is from some sort of prank call service, you'd hear a voice say "Hello, yeah, hang on" followed by the sound of a phone being placed on a table then perpetual background noise of dogs barking, people arguing, a blaring TV, occasionally interspersed with a "Hang on I'm coming". Recording seemed designed to confuse and keep you on the line. It caused a great deal of distress and worry until we realised what it was.

The service did improve towards the end of her stay though she could never trust it for long conversations as the call would drop. We found the handset would stick to a 3 signal if set to "UMTS only" mode as 3 didn't have any 3G roaming agreements in Oz at that time.

I've since used 3 like home myself across Europe (Italy, Sweden and Denmark) and found that in those Countries it worked well. Calls and data were included as per my UK price plan and I was happy with the service.

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