3 admits to patchy mobile broadband coverage, stops dongle sales

While other operators adopt an ostrich-like approach to complaints about their mobile broadband offerings, 3UK has confessed that customers who are experiencing poor web browsing and email performance can cancel their contracts or receive a discount.

In an effort to restrict the number of customers affected, 3 said it had temporarily suspended dongle sales in areas that are currently poorly served for 3G--without pinpointing which areas in the UK had coverage problems.

According to Hugh Davies, 3's director of corporate affairs, these suspensions will take place across "a few hundred sites where, for a short period--one to three months--we'll be advising stores in those areas to have a thoroughly good check of the coverage maps to make sure [potential customers are] not on the edge of a degraded experience".

Davies made reference to where internal standards couldn't be met, and 3 was unable to resolve them technically, then the customer would not be held to the conditions of the contract. He confirmed that the company's precise internal standards for 3G services would be made public within months, or sooner. He said the standards relate to a quality of service that allowed basic web browsing and email, rather than video streaming or other high-bandwidth usage.

3 also admitted that it had recently started degrading P2P traffic at busy times of the day in certain areas, in order to maintain a better surfing experience for other users. However, it confirmed that it would not limit video streaming on its mobile broadband network for as long as possible.

For more on this story:

Related stories:
Mobile broadband - much promised, little delivered
Mobile broadband will drive service revenues
Mobile data growth is recession proof, claims Orange exec
GRAPHS: LTE mobile broadband forecast