Tethering on UK Networks: Which Mobile Networks Allow You To Tether?
August 9th, 2016
In the UK, only certain mobile networks allow you to tether. Find out the tethering policy on each UK network.
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with another device. It’s often used as a convenient way to get your laptop or tablet connected to the internet on-the-go.
Almost all smartphones today have the functionality for you to tether to another device or to enable a personal hotspot. This includes iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices. However, there is a limitation in that only certain mobile networks will allow you to tether (it’ll sometimes be restricted in your mobile network’s terms and conditions). For this reason, it’s important to find out the tethering policy for your mobile network.
In this article, we’ll review and compare the tethering policy on each UK mobile network. We’ll also highlight some of the best value deals currently available with support for tethering.
Overview of Tethering Policies By Network
The following table shows a quick summary of which networks and tariffs you’re able to tether on. For further information, select your mobile network for more details about their tethering policy.
|Mobile Network||Pay Monthly Tethering||Pay As You Go Tethering|
|EE||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|giffgaff||–||✔ Yes (6GB limit with Always On data)|
|O2||✔ Yes||✘ No|
|Tesco Mobile||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|Three||✔ Yes (on Advanced plans only)||✘ No|
|Vodafone||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|ASDA Mobile||–||✔ Yes|
|BT Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|Co-operative Mobile||–||✔ Yes|
|iD Mobile||✘ No||–|
|Lebara Mobile||–||✘ No|
|LIFE Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|Talkmobile||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|TalkTalk Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|TPO Mobile||✘ No||✘ No|
|Vectone Mobile||–||✘ No|
|Virgin Mobile||✘ No||✘ No|
Cheapest Deals For Tethering
Pay As You Go
If you’re looking to tether on Pay As You Go, there are currently eight mobile networks you’re currently able to choose from. They are ASDA Mobile, Co-op Mobile, EE, giffgaff, Talkmobile, Tello, Tesco Mobile and Vodafone.
The following table gives a quick summary of some of the bundles available for tethering on Pay As You Go:
At present, ASDA Mobile is our recommended network for tethering on Pay As You Go. Their £10 bundle includes 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of tetherable internet every month. You’ll get 99% population coverage (there’s 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network).
To take advantage of the offer, you should order a free SIM card from the ASDA Mobile website.
With 1GB of Internet
If you’re looking to tether from your smartphone, we’d typically recommend choosing a tariff with at least 1GB of data per month as a minimum. A 1GB tariff will allow you to tether occasionally (e.g. a couple of times per month for when a wi-fi network isn’t available).
At present, multiple mobile networks are offering a SIM card with at least 1GB of tetherable data per month. The following table outlines the main options:
Please remember that the data allowance listed will need to cover your normal smartphone data usage as well as any data use through tethering.
With 2GB of Internet
For occasional tethering (e.g. once per week), we recommend choosing a tariff with at least 2GB of tetherable data. There are currently a range of suitable deals from around £10/month:
With 4GB of Internet
If you’re likely to tether regularly on your smartphone (e.g. a couple of times every week), we recommend choosing a tariff with at least 4GB of tetherable data per month.
The following tariffs will allow you to tether up to 4GB per month:
With 8GB of Internet
If you’re likely to tether almost every day (e.g. on your commute in to the office), we recommend choosing a tariff with at least 8GB of tetherable data per month. The following SIM-only contracts will be suitable for your usage:
In Depth: Tethering Policies By Network
In the following section, we’ll discuss the tethering policies for each mobile network in more detail. For a general overview, see the summary table earlier in this article.
You can tether on all types of tariff from EE: it’s an integral feature of both their Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go plans.
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether from £12.99/month:
You can tether on any of giffgaff’s latest goodybags. In general, you can do this up to your monthly download allowance. However, customers with the £20 goodybag with ‘Always On’ data can only tether for the first 6GB per month. For more information, please see the giffgaff Tethering Policy:
The following goodybags will allow you to tether on giffgaff from £7.50/month:
On O2, tethering is only permitted on Pay Monthly contracts. This has been a standard feature of O2’s Pay Monthly contracts since March 2011 (the rules may differ if you took your contract before this). Unfortunately, it’s not currently possible to tether on O2 Pay As You Go.
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on O2 from £12.50/month:
On Tesco Mobile, you can tether at no extra cost on all tariffs that have an inclusive data allowance. This includes both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go tariffs.
From the Tesco Mobile help pages:
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Tesco Mobile from £7.50/month:
Source: Tesco Mobile Help: Using your phone or tablet as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Three allows you to tether, but only if you have an ‘Advanced’ Pay Monthly contract. For the majority of ‘Advanced’ plan customers, tethering will come out of your normal data allowance. However, for customers with all-you-can-eat data, a separate allowance will apply for your tethering. This is 30GB per month on all-you-can-eat plans taken out from April 2016. Older plans may have a smaller tethering allowance.
The following ‘Advanced’ SIM-only deals allow you to tether on Three from £8/month:
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tether on Three’s Essential plans or on Three’s Pay As You Go service. For more information, see the Three help article on tethering from your smartphone.
Vodafone has allowed tethering on all of their Pay Monthly plans since June 2011.
The following SIM cards from Vodafone will allow you to tether from £12/month:
Tethering is also permitted on Vodafone Pay As You Go.
Other Mobile Networks
ASDA Mobile allows tethering and portable hotspot usage on all of their Pay As You Go bundles. They’re one of the better value networks for tethering on Pay As You Go: you can get 1.5GB of tetherable data for just £10/month.
The following Pay As You Go bundles on ASDA Mobile are suitable for tethering:
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on BT Mobile from £5/month:
The prices shown include a £5/month discount for customers living in a BT Broadband household.
Prior to June 2016, clause 25b of the BT Mobile terms and conditions prohibited the use of tethering on their network:
For more information, see the thread on BT’s Community Forums.
You can use the following Pay As You Go bundles to tether on the Co-Operative Mobile:
Similar conditions are specified for other passes sold by Lebara. For instance, see clause 8h of the terms and conditions for Lebara Mobile’s Bolt-On Data.
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on LIFE Mobile from £4.95/month:
Source: LIFE Mobile Frequently Asked Questions: Your Tariff
Lycamobile doesn’t allow tethering on their network. The terms and conditions pertaining to tethering can be seen on the Lycamobile bundles page (scroll to the bottom and click the small link saying ‘Terms and Conditions’):
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Talkmobile from £7.50/month:
You can tether on all current tariffs available from TalkTalk Mobile. There’s a FAQ page on TalkTalk’s website explaining how to tether on their network.
If you’d like to tether on TalkTalk, the following SIM cards could be suitable for your usage:
You must have TalkTalk home broadband before you’re allowed to take a deal from TalkTalk Mobile.
In 2015, TalkTalk Mobile offered an All-in SIM card where tethering was prohibited on the tariff. The All-in SIM card is no longer available to new TalkTalk Mobile customers.
On Tello, you can build your own custom plan from £3/month. The following table gives some example plans from £5.50/month:
Since the 24th January 2013, it’s not been possible to tether on new contracts from Virgin Mobile. For full details, see the terms and conditions on the Virgin Mobile service:
If your contract was taken out before the 24th January 2013, you should check the exact terms and conditions for your tariff.
For more information on your network’s tethering policy, please refer to their official website. For information on how to tether from your smartphone, see our article on how to use your smartphone’s tethering functionality.
My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.
Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.