Free mobile internet & data on your Pay As You Go mobile

November 9th, 2009

The large networks now offer free mobile internet on their Pay As You Go tariffs.

A man and his camel
Creative Commons License photo: Tambako the Jaguar

I’ve written about how you can get free texts and free calls on your Pay As You Go Network before but never how you can get free mobile web from your mobile. Why? Until recently you couldn’t – web access was considered one of those premium services that shouldn’t be given away for free; the networks were worried that we would start making calls and sending texts over the data connection – something which would destroy their business model.

With the advent of smartphones and better 3G networks, we’re now beginning to see Pay As You Go packages that offer free mobile web access.

Below, we list the networks that offer free mobile web and how you can switch to that tariff. If you’re network isn’t there, you’ll have to hold on for the time being or think about switching network. If we’re missing something, do let us know.

What can I do with free mobile internet access/data?

All kinds. For example:

  • Browse the web and social networks such as Facebook
  • Reading the news; checking the travel news on the go
  • Upload your phone photos straight to Flickr, Facebook, etc.
  • Get Google Maps for Mobile – never get lost again
  • Send and receive emails

What networks offer it?

At the moment: 3, O2, T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Orange customers can get free access to social networks only. If you’re on Vodafone or another network, you need to wait for the time being.

Before you switch: your allowances may change

Your existing PAYG tariff might have some free allowances – or it might not. If it doesn’t, you don’t lose a single thing by switching. If it does, there is a good possibility that you will lose that allowance and have it replaced by the allowance of the tariff you switch to. Also, call costs might change too. Check before you switch – you might not be able to go back.

threeThree: 3Pay

Three’s 3Pay tariff (see our guide) offers 150MB of free internet access every time you top up. The free allowance lasts up to 90 days. As well as that, you can use Skype and Windows Live Messenger (they don’t count towards your data allowance and can also be accessed without topping up) and you get free texts too.

  • Minimum topup: £5
  • Free data allowance: 150MB that lasts until you top up again, for a maximum of 90 days
  • Existing 3 customers: Call 444 and select option 6 to switch to 3Pay
  • Other networks: Send off for a free SIM card from Three. Then see our guide about switching network and transferring your number.

o2

O2: Text & Web

O2’s Text and Web tariff (see our guide) offers 500MB of free internet access and 600 free texts when you top up by £15. The free allowance lasts for 30 days. Chances are you won’t be able to use Skype or Windows Live Messenger – but should be OK for maps, web and email.

orangeOrange: Dolphin (but only for social networks)

Orange don’t offer a free data tariff as per se but they do offer free access to Facebook, Bebo and MySpace on the Dolphin tariff (see our guide) . You won’t be able to access anything like the news, weather or travel information (anything from the rest of the internet) for free. But it’s still better than nothing and it’ll suffice if you just want to use it for social networking.

tmobileT-Mobile: Monthly Text and Internet Reward

T-Mobile Pay As You Go customers can opt into the ‘Monthly Text and Internet Reward’ scheme (see our guide). You get 40MB of data to use per day for 1 month when you top up £10. You’re not allowed to use a Blackberry with this scheme.

  • Minimum topup: £10
  • Free data allowance: 40MB per day for 30 days (equiv. to 1,200MB)
  • Existing Virgin Mobile customers: Ask T-Mobile to opt you in to to the ‘Monthly Text and Internet Reward’ scheme.
  • Customers of other networks: Send off for a free SIM card from T-Mobile. Then see our guide about switching network and transferring your number.

virginVirgin Mobile: Addict

Virgin Mobile’s Addict tariff offers 1GB (1000MB) of free internet access and 3,000 texts when you top up by £20. The free allowance lasts for 30 days. Chances are you won’t be able to use Skype or Windows Live Messenger – but should be OK for maps, web and email.

Other Networks

Vodafone customers are out of luck for the time being for totally free internet access. For Vodafone Simply customers, there is a flat rate of £1 for the first 15MB you use each day. After that, it’s £2/MB.

Keep up to date on mobile phone tariffs in the UK

Subscribe to the Ken’s Tech Tips: News Feed for details of new phone tariffs, price cuts and exciting ways to use your mobile.

    

Like this tip? Get the most from your mobile phone...

  • Discover brand new ways to use your mobile phone
  • Techniques to get more out of your mobile phone for less
  • Be the first to learn about new mobile technology

Enter your email to receive free regular Ken's Tech Tips:

About Ken

Ken Lo

I'm a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005 with the aim of demystifying mobile technology for the rest of us.

Before writing about mobile technology, my background was in space & atmospheric physics. I have also worked in software development. Nowadays, I help companies to explain mobile technology to their customers. Please check out my portfolio or get in touch for more information. I'm also on Google+.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 3 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. mike said:

    I do wish you would not quote payg tarriffs that are time limited, a time limited tarriff is a contract. You’re obviously going to buy one next month aren’t you.
    It defeats the whole object of having payg.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Mike,

      These are PAYG tariffs – the free allowances take absolutely no money from your top up nor is there a commitment to top up every single month or set up a direct debit. I can’t see how they class as contracts.

      Ken

Leave a Reply

E-Mail Notifications: By default, I'll drop you an e-mail when there's a reply to your comment. If you don't want to receive such a notification, please select the "Don't Subscribe" option from the dropdown menu above.