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Three WiFi / 3G Router: Crap

I parted company with £69.99 today to purchase Three’s 3G / WiFi router, the Huawei D100.  I wish I hadn’t.

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I’ve used it for an hour and decided it’s going back to the shop.  I may just throw it through the door and hurl abuse, but I hope to have calmed down enough to go in to collect a refund.

On paper it’s an appealing device – you insert your USB broadband dongle and it creates a WiFi access point…  Ideal for the MIR crew when we’re out and about.  Every operator will offer one – we saw T-Mobile’s effort recently.  So what’s wrong?

It doesn’t have a battery! It was advertised both in the marketing materials and on Three’s site as having a battery (UK Gadgeteer has the story)…. many sites wrote this up. It doesn’t.  It needs a power supply.  Three have changed their site without any comment and it’s confused customers. £70 for something that’s tied to a power supply? Bah!

It’s slow. Oh my god it’s slow. Speed tests are notoriously hard to do, but I never managed to get the router to operate faster than 25% of the speed achieved by using the dongle directly.  Pages crawl down.  T-Mobile’s unit didn’t feel this bad.

I love Three – the Skypephone, X-series and cheap broadband, but this really is a massive disappointment

If the lack of the promised battery doesn’t bother you, I’d still recommend waiting for reviews of a few other models to come in – I couldn’t live with it.

For those interested here’s some more pictures and interface screenshots:

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Wireless Gateway-5Wireless Gateway-1Wireless Gateway-4Wireless Gateway-6Wireless Gateway-2Wireless Gateway-3Wireless Gateway-7

By Ben Smith

Ben is an expert on enterprise mobility and wireless data products. He has been a regular contributor to Mobile Industry Review since 2007 and is also editor of Wireless Worker.

50 replies on “Three WiFi / 3G Router: Crap”

Cheers Ben! I was going to run to the local 3 store and grab one in the morning but I shan't bother now!

The battery was the biggest selling point, what the fuck happened?!

Thanks for the update – you have saved me and a hundred other MIR readers from having to go through the disappointment of finding out that the D100 is less good than originally suspected.

The search for a really good portable 3G<>WiFi AP continues…..

Strange.. very strange. I'm sat here using mine now – plenty fast enough, it even let my Wii connect to it, and I could play Mario Kart. It doesn't seem to be any different from using the dongle plugged into the computer.

Whilst I must admint I was slightly narked the battery wasn't part of it, I'm still happy.

Faulty unit perhaps?

K

Maybe…. With my dongle on my Mac I get 250kbps down and ~50kbps up. in teh same location using the router seconds later I get 50kbps each way tops.

Obviously the numbers are meaningless if it works for you, but Flickr pages crawled down via the router… painful. Via the dongle they flew down.

2hrs on my N95. Good enough. Any longer than that and the devices you are using for WiFi access need charging too – like laptops in particular. The use case for mobile WiFi is snacking or plugged into mains.

Router interface confirmed only one (me) user – long WEP key set too to prevent accidental use by others.

Only one other network visible during testing, but even so… if other networks cause such a problem it's still a fail. Distance between laptop and router was about 10cm – so it was definitely the strongest signal. At home I have >10 WiFi networks visible and the speed drop from a wired connection to a normal access point is minimal. This is supposed to be a device I can setup anywhere quickly and just use.

My own tests at Mike42 towers this am have yielded the following results: Joikuspot running on an E71 is fundamentally no different in throughput to a dongle. I get around 400-500kbps on both. I did have a spike on the dongle of 1Mbps, but that took ages to end the test, so I suspect might have been an error in the Java machine running the D/L test.

So I've never seen a speed limitation in Joikuspot. The processor load is minimal as JS works as an internal router. If you run a CPU monitor you'll be hard pressed to even tell JS is running.

/m

Possibly… but there really are only 2 channels worth using. In use they all overlap so the only way to prevent overlap is to set one at the highest channel and the other at the lowest. As soon as >2 networks are in use overlap and interference is inevitable so devices need to be able to cope with it gracefully.

No – it's definitely me… I was channeling Dan Lane though 🙂

Yep – that's mostly the 3G radio there Ben. Use your handset as a bluetooth or USB moden and you'll see the same temp issue. The WiFi adds surprisingly little.

A trick is to set your WiFi power to the minimum using the phone's WiFi settings – you can go down to 4mW instead of 100. Does make a bit of differnece, but not much as again, it's the 3G radio that's the power hog.

/m

I think I know what happened, but I'll defer to 3UK to provide a formal answer on that (I'm still awaiting any form of statement from them).

Although I can still see the device being useful with a mains power connection for many scenarios, I'm not sure I'm impressed with 3UK's handling of this.

interesting wording on the box… no landline…. no wires

What do they call the lead that connects from a power socket in the wall into the back to power it when there is no battery like they said it had?

Hi All,

Is anyone else still waiting for their router to arrive? I ordered mine online and the usb modem arrived on Friday 17th but still on Router. Everytime I call them they say none in stock ready for distribution, only shop stock????

Has anyone got their router delivered that was ordered online?

VERY FRUSTRATING !!!!!!!!!!
PS – they were quick enough to take the money from my card.

Trevor.

I ordered and paid for mine online nearly two weeks ago and I still haven't received it!
When I last spoke to them Saturday (25th Oct) they said I should get it Monday. ''It's been sent packet post.''
I haven't, so Ive just called their web sales shop on 0870 333 1829 (option 2) cos 333 couldn't connect me and they are chasing it up and will call me later or tomorrow, 'cos ''I have been waiting a long time.'' Too right!
And reading the above Im also a little dissapointed to read its not rechargeable battery powered.
Oh well. At least I only forked out £34.99 for mine. 🙁

Hi Jim,

Today I finally lost my temper with 3 sales. I too was told almost every day that it would be despacthed that day, only for it never to appear. Well today I spoke to someone who told me that she would call me bak by 5pm with a straight answer. At 5.10pm I phone back as no phone call was forthcoming, only to be told I was a liar! The lady changed her story to say she only said she would call back if there was any news to impart! What shit customer service.
Needless to say I have asked for a cancellation within my 14 days allowance. They will also refund the £35 for the router that never appeared.
This is a very sad day indeed as I have 4 current contracts with three, one laptop one, a mobile, a usb modem one and a skypephone S2 – all on contract. (Used for work)
So as a customer with 4 contracts trying to enter his 5th, what a shit way of treating me – I wont be leaving 3 as they are still the best for data based products, but what a sour ending to my router story.

By the way – they have no routers currently sat here in the UK, thats the reason none of us got ours. Why oh why did they keep telling me that they were sending me one out every day?
Answer – just bullshit the customer to get them off the phone.

If I want any extra contracts, in future I will use a three shop.

Trev.

That's a shame 🙁

As I keep telling people, mobile operator staff should be forced to “buy” their company handsets and contracts via the normal channels so they can see first-hand how crap their customer service experience can be. I don't actually know of any UK operators that do this 🙁

Hi Trev.

I spoke with Mike today on the 0870 270 0060 web sales shop number. I spoke with him last Friday on that number. (The other number I called yesterday has too many options…. and the woman didn't call me back. No surprise there!)

He told me that the routers were now back in stock and they were emailing the 'department' dealing with it to despatch to customers who hadn't received theirs.

They haven't a system in place to notify them and are relying on customers to call them or else they are assuming that people have received them!

I don't know what to believe, but I am now expecting delivery of mine this Thursday.
None of the people at Three seem to have any knowledge on their products either which concerns me; especially as I have spent a small fortune on calling 0870 numbers the past week to find out.

But the reason I have switched to 3 (from Orange) is like you stated, that they are more competitive with their data plans and products. Time will tell if I make any savings!

Jim

Hi Jim,

I'm hopeful that your router will arrive for you on Thursday, however the comment “They haven't a system in place to notify them and are relying on customers to call them or else they are assuming that people have received them!” worries me greatly.

What sort of shit way to run a company is that?

Despite claiming my cancellation under the 14 day policy I'm sure that something else will go wrong for me, how about not refunding the £35 router cost without a fight???

Best of luck again Jim,

Trev.

If you didn't like that one, you'll like this one for sure. It's made by a company which specializes in these kinds of products, and doesn't cost you much either. Plus, you get excellent support. Sure, it doesn't have a battery, but you can always use it in a vehicle with a 12V cable. It supports over 30 different USB modems from brands like Huawei, Option, Novatel Wireless, ZTE, BandLuxe, etc……And, it also has cool features like automatic fail-over (backup), SMS mailbox, Connection Tracker, DynDNS, and what-have-you….

Have a look: http://www.dovado.com

Price-tag is like €99

I purchased a D100 and within an hour it had locked me out(my fault, I do like to fiddle), took it back to PCWorld and they exchanged it without batting an eyelid. After getting this one home and firing it up I went onto the MCAfee website to check it's speed and it registered an impressive 500 KbPS, without the router it was 60 KbPS. I am not up to speed on how fast this is in real world terms, but the D100 operates faster than my hardwire broadband connection at work. In conclusion, like every bit of new kit that hits the market, there will be lovers, haters and people with vested interests!

Hi Ben, thank you for your review, just got the D100 and tested it with my 3g connection, same results as you. The scenery is this: I have a laptop with the three usb key plugged in it, a tp-link access point connected to the laptop with a lan cable (the laptop is old and don't have wireless) and my pc with a tp-link dongle connected to the wlan. Download speed is good… 130/150 kB/sec. If the D100 is connected with the lan cable to the TP-LINK and the wireless dongle is still connected with the TP-LINK the speed is the same, if the tp-link is replaced with the d100 or i just switch to the D100 WLAN the download speed drops to 70kB/sec about. Tried different channels but the results are the same… maybe this router has just some firmware problem or what? best regards

Hi Ben, thank you for your review, just got the D100 and tested it with my 3g connection, same results as you. The scenery is this: I have a laptop with the three usb key plugged in it, a tp-link access point connected to the laptop with a lan cable (the laptop is old and don't have wireless) and my pc with a tp-link dongle connected to the wlan. Download speed is good… 130/150 kB/sec. If the D100 is connected with the lan cable to the TP-LINK and the wireless dongle is still connected with the TP-LINK the speed is the same, if the tp-link is replaced with the d100 or i just switch to the D100 WLAN the download speed drops to 70kB/sec about. Tried different channels but the results are the same… maybe this router has just some firmware problem or what? best regards

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