Well if I want the deal I'm after, I'm probably going to have to go with 3. I'm hearing less than great reviews of their coverage, but also hearing that they have a slice of the EE 4G network, and EE are planning 70-9x% coverage between now and 2014.
3 coverage is honestly pants. If you are in a big city it's fine but anywhere remote it struggles. Also as they do not have a 2G fallback you find where every other network reverts to 2G signal (fine to call and text) 3 loses signal all together.
Yes 3 have some of the EE spectrum. This DOES NOT mean they have the same coverage.
3 often use the same base stations as T-mobile under MBNL however nearly always the 3 sites are broadcasting at a lower transmit power to the T-mobile ones, usually around 18db, whereas T-mobile are always around 28 (In my experience), and quite often T-mobile have 2 cells on the site, pointing in opposite directions whereas 3 only has 1 site, pointing in 1 direction.
Also the T-mobile transmitter might be much higher up on the mast, say 10m higher (usually is higher than the 3 masts tbf)
Not only this but T-mobile then has the old orange sites, often which are tall sites say 30m or higher, these can give coverage for miles and miles which also strengthens the EE signal.
3 do have some EE spectrum. Sadly they do not have a lot so speeds probably will not be amazing if takeup is high.
3 are price competitive and their data is unlimited. Nonetheless definitely consider that 3 operate traffic management. In essense with this, say you watch netflix for a long time on your data, say 3 hours, traffic management will start throttling the netflix traffic down to keep load on the network down. This often means that netflix will struggle to play once the throttling kicks in, or atleast it will play in bad quality. This traffic management is something new by 3 and only new customers are affected (so those on older unlimited 3 plans do not see this). It's worth considering.
At present it will be 3G. If I go with EE (T-Mobile actually), I'll have their claimed unlimited, but there's a 3GB FUP, which I was told today caps streams, downloads, FTP, e-mail etc, but port 80 stuff would still be allowed (not sure I quite believe that, and am more inclined to believe I'll find the cap was reached when I get the bill).
I have T-mobile full monty plan taken in April / May this year. I was without home broadband for a few weeks and used over 100Gb without any issues. Granted this was a one-off. The main point to note is that their unlimited plans are restricted to around 4Mbps speed, which frankly is fine.
Also you must consider that you will not always have 3G signal and a lot of the time you will have WiFi so your usage might not be HUGE, unless you are using this instead of WiFi?
EDIT: Something you will realise with 3G is that it's a finite resource and shared. Streaming quite frequently of videos etc just doesn't work well. It works fine usually at home (but you have WiFi anyway) but in busy cities where the masts are at capacity it's not so good. On the commuter train home when everyones on their phones, even 3G can be struggling to load websites never mind stream. My experiences anyways. I found this on 3, o2, vodafone and now T-mobile around London.
Edited by ukhardy07 (Mon 05-Aug-13 20:52:49)