3 has an advantage in that it only offers a 3G service and it has a smaller user base than its rivals, so competition for its bandwidth should be less than it is for the others. The Windows-based connection manager is basic but does the job and more importantly it fired up from the dongle with no fuss or bother. Mobile …
Not my experience with 3
I still have a 3 dongle and for most of the Midlands (Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Brum) its bloody appalling. Average speeds rarely exceed 250kbps downstream and upstream is under 100kbps. At peak times you can forget it - websites like news.bbc.co.uk simply don't work as the connection is so slow that most of the links on the page have timed out.
Nothing to do with signal strength either. Overloaded backhaul is the problem - not surprisingly since 3 own little to no infrastructure outside the M25.
One thing to watch is that speedtest.net (and others) is frequently given higher priority than other sites simply because of articles like this.
I wouldn't wish 3 "broadband" on my worst enemy.
I use Tmobile
I have a tmobile stick, hsdpa is ok, speed ok and the monthly limit is posted (not simply unlimited). I do find the microsd card a blessing as my older netbook only has one usb port so it is useful for me. I used to tether my omnia to the book but found that tethering was slower than a dedicated stick so I use that instead.
No problems from me in lancashire until I start to head further n than garstang. M6, M62, M61, M65 corridors are ok but stray too far from them and it drops off HSDPA. It is getting better and works for me and my job.
15GB is £15 per month for a 24 month contract, not £25. Much better value than the 18 month package.
I've been using 3 for over two years and I've noticed a steady drop in performance in that time.
I use mainly during the working day - in Manchester city centre. There is a serious drop-off in performance between 11am-3pm with frequent disconnections and time-outs. From 12pm-2pm, I find myself having to reconnect every 2-3 page loads; it's virtually unusable. At other times, however, performance is great.
I suspect that the network is heavily overloaded in urban centres at least. Would be interested to know the timings of these tests.
3G Dongle + SD slot + Ubuntu OS = control
The article states that the inclusion of an SD slot seems less than useful, seem not to realise that this allows users to get rid of the need to carry a usb memory stick, which can of course be used to carry a coy of things like the Ubuntu OS, thereby giving the user control of the ISP used and the scope to bypass a host computers untrusted OS.
Had a 3G dongle both when I attended the Microsoft Technical Launch for 7 last year, and the Reading MVP get together, and couldn't get a connection from the second the train left Newcastle Central Station, until I got to London, and even then, it was absolutely rubbish (was still rubbish when I reached Reading, used the internet cafe eventually as I got tired of trying).
3G Dongle + SD slot + usb_modeswitch script = plug 'n' play
I use the storage space to keep the scripts to activate the modem - like my own zeroconf cd.