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Mobile network operator Three has begun trials of a plug-and-play Wi-Fi broadband service in Northern Ireland.
The service will run over Three’s mobile broadband network in Northern Ireland, and is billed as a flexible alternative to fixed-line broadband operators, such as BT or TalkTalk.
Three said the trial service would offer a better option for users who had little or no need of a landline telephone service, such as students or people living in short-term rented accommodation.
It has made data two packages available, of either 20GB or 40GB, starting at £20 per month on the basis of either a rolling 30-day or minimum 12-month contract. It has opened up the service to non-Three mobile customers.
However, the service will not quite qualify as superfast broadband because, outside those parts of Northern Ireland that receive a 4G signal, it will only be able to offer an average speed of 9.9Mbps over 3G.
“Our home broadband service offers an alternative to a costly fixed-line service, which many consumers have no need for,” said Three chief marketing officer Tom Malleschitz. “Best of all, it's super-simple – consumers can just plug and play with no need for complex installation.”
The operator has made 500 routers available to test the service and gauge consumer interest and the effect on its network. Three’s pitch for heavy mobile data users has worked well in the past, with its network currently carrying a little over 40% of the UK’s mobile data.
Rivals EE and Vodafone offer home broadband services in the UK – although these are based on traditional fixed infrastructure.