Three UK network going down highlights need for everyone - including me - to have a backup broadband at hand

A three UK store
(Image credit: Three)

I am a proud Three UK customer and have been a champion of their services for quite some time; after all, it offers the world’s cheapest unlimited data plan and I’ve got one (a so-called 5G broadband). Today however, I find myself using a backup broadband service in order to get work done (and write this article). 

Three has been down for nearly two hours, impacting not only phone calls and mobile data on its network and its MVNO partners but also - and more significantly - mobile broadband data used by thousands of small businesses, professionals and startups across the UK.

If you have been impacted by this and are reading this once the dust has settled, it might be a good idea to look at how you can get a backup broadband package to mitigate any sudden loss in connectivity, delivering an emergency solution, regardless of whether you are a consumer or a business.

For the first set of users, it can be as simple as having a simple phone with a loaded pay as you go (PAYG) SIM, which is commonly known as a glove box phone. Any SIM only deal would do. It may not be useful to receive calls but it may prove invaluable to make one. Bear in mind as well that you may need to keep it charged and loaded (just do it at the same time as you test your smoke alarm).

Better late than never

For businesses, there’s a wide variety of solutions available to ensure seamless connectivity regardless of the provider. Depending on your budget and how many minutes of downtime you can afford, it can be as simple as having a fixed broadband connection (I have one with Virgin Media) or a mobile broadband router connected to a different mobile network. 

Alternatively, if your smartphone supports two SIMs, you can use a cheap data only SIM and enable the hotspot feature on your device.

More elaborate solutions include a bonding router where two or more broadband connections (wired or wireless) are joined together to create a big internet pipe. These are often used for load balancing as well which enables a more efficient use of your internet resources. 

Some UK networks like EE and Virgin Media have already started to roll out these “unbreakable” Wi-Fi which essentially pair a wireless connection to a wired one; expect this to be a major feature of any network going forward. Ask your Internet Service provider for what options are available to you as a consumer or business. 

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Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.