In praise of Three

Working in mobiles for over 8 years I’ve seen the rise in coverage of 3G networks. I know how they work, unless you are in a major city you are going to have limited coverage. Trying to read Facebook in Toys-r-us in Lincoln? Better make sure your near the window. Going out in to the country? Tough.

So when I got myself a Samba SIM to use with my tablet for a laugh I though I would check the coverage of Three (who Samba use) around me. Samba Coverage I was surprised to see them claim that for almost my whole commute they would provide at least “outdoor” 3G coverage.

So I put it through a test. Lincoln has pretty rubbish DAB radio coverage, which means I only get 6 Music online or via satellite. I’d rather listen to this on the way to and from work and when I tried to stream the music through my phone in the past, several drop-outs in Lincoln, and then hitting the A46, nothing until Newark.

Pulling out of work with the MiFi on and the phone connected to it (and mobile data turned off just to be sure), hitting Beacon Hill resulted in my first drop. It wasn’t looking good. But then down the A17, perfect all the way to Brant Broughton. A few drops along the stretch labelled outdoor, and I’m sure it went around the white patch, and then fine all the way home. A guess would suggest 95% audio for my journey home [edit 24/10/2013 test this morning 1m07s drop in a 35m journey so 96.8%]. My journey back to work this morning I took the A46, again a few drops but around 98% audio.

This is the sort of coverage I expect for mobile internet, enough to do the simple things like load maps, read an article, find a shop on Google, which on Vodafone right now I’m not getting frequently.

But is it really worth paying twice for data? We’ll this is where Samba comes in. They offer data access on Three’s network in return for watching adverts. Without much effort you can earn 1GB a month for just having another tab open in your browser which you hit buttons on once in a while. My tests in streaming music suggest around 1MB per minute of audio. A SIM costs £5, or a SIM and USB dongle for £25, and if you use this link they will knock £2.50 off your order, and send me £2.50 as a thank you for referring you.

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