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.

Personal Hotspot on iPhoneTethering 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
Lycamobile No
Plusnet Mobile Yes
Sky Mobile Yes
Talkmobile Yes Yes
TalkTalk Mobile Yes
Tello Yes
TPO Mobile No No
Vectone Mobile No
Virgin Mobile No No

Cheapest Deals For Tethering

Pay As You Go

Top Up LogoIf 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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Tello500Unlimited1GB£10.00
EE1001,0001GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,000500MB£10.00
Co-operative Mobile2503,000500MB£10.00
Vodafone150Unlimited500MB£10.00

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.

Order ASDA Mobile SIM Card (Free) »

With 1GB of Internet

iOS8 TetheringIf 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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
Plusnet Mobile1,000Unlimited2GB£7.50
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£7.50
Tello200Unlimited1GB£9.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
Three600Unlimited1GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Sky Mobile001GB£10.00
EE1,000Unlimited1GB£14.99
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£15.00
O21,000Unlimited1GB£15.00

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
Plusnet Mobile1,000Unlimited2GB£7.50
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£12.00
Three200Unlimited2GB£13.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£15.00
Sky Mobile003GB£15.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£17.99
O2UnlimitedUnlimited2GB£18.00

With 4GB of Internet

MacBook Pro

With tethering or personal hotspot, your laptop can get access to the internet wherever you are.

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
Talkmobile1,5005,0004GB£10.00
Plusnet Mobile1,500Unlimited4GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile2505,0004GB£11.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
giffgaff1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
Three600Unlimited4GB£15.00
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£15.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£19.99
O2UnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00
Sky Mobile005GB£20.00

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
Talkmobile5,0005,00015GB£15.00
Three600Unlimited8GB£18.00
Tesco Mobile7505,0008GB£19.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£19.99
O2UnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£22.20
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£25.00

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.

Popular Networks

EE

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
EE500Unlimited500MB£12.99
EE1,000Unlimited1GB£14.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£17.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£19.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited2GB£19.99
EE50050015GB£20.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£21.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£22.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£25.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£25.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited7GB£26.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£30.00
EEUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£30.99
EEUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£39.99

Source: EE Help Article: About Tethering
Tariff Information: EE Website

giffgaff

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:

Tethering is authorised on all our goodybags and gigabags with a limited data allowance, and when using airtime credit.

On our £20 Always On goodybag tethering is allowed for the first 6GB of data, after that tethering will not be available. Tethering is not allowed at all on our Unlimited £20 goodybag that offers an unlimited data allowance.

The following goodybags will allow you to tether on giffgaff from £7.50/month:

TariffMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
£7.50 Goodybag250Unlimited500MB£7.50
£10 Goodybag500Unlimited1GB£10.00
£12 Goodybag500Unlimited2GB£12.00
£15 Goodybag1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
£18 Goodybag2,000Unlimited6GB£18.00
£20 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
6GB tethering
£20.00

Source: giffgaff Support: Tethering Policy
Tariff Information: giffgaff Website

O2

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
O2500Unlimited500MB£12.50
O21,000Unlimited1GB£15.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited2GB£18.00
O2UnlimitedUnlimited20GB£20.00

Source: O2 Website
Tariff Information: O2 Website

Tesco Mobile

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:

If your tariff has a data allowance included, you can use your device as a personal hotspot at no extra cost. If you don’t have a data allowance, or you go over your data allowance, you’ll be charged our standard rates.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Tesco Mobile from £7.50/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Tesco Mobile2505,0001GB£7.50
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,000500MB£10.00
Tesco Mobile2505,0004GB£11.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£12.50
Tesco Mobile1,0005,0001GB£12.50
Tesco Mobile3,0005,0002GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,0003GB£17.50
Tesco Mobile7505,00020GB£20.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,0006GB£22.50

Source: Tesco Mobile Help: Using your phone or tablet as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Tariff Information: Tesco Mobile Website

Three

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Three200Unlimited500MB£9.00
Three600Unlimited1GB£10.00
Three200Unlimited2GB£13.00
Three600Unlimited4GB£15.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited1GB£15.00
Three600Unlimited8GB£18.00
Three200Unlimited12GB£19.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£20.00
Three600Unlimited12GB£21.00
Three200Unlimited30GB£22.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£23.00
Three200UnlimitedUnlimited
30GB tethering
£24.00
Three600Unlimited30GB£26.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£26.00
Three600UnlimitedUnlimited
30GB tethering
£27.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£30.00
ThreeUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
30GB tethering
£32.00

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.

Source: Three FAQ: Personal Hotspot on your phone
Tariff Information: Three Website

Vodafone

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Vodafone500Unlimited500MB£12.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£15.00
Vodafone1,000Unlimited1GB£15.00
VodafoneUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£22.20

Tethering is also permitted on Vodafone Pay As You Go.

Source: Vodafone Website
Tariff Information: Vodafone Website

Other Mobile Networks

ASDA Mobile

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited500MB£7.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited20GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1.5GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£20.00

Source: ASDA Mobile: Help Page on Tethering
Tariff Information: ASDA Mobile Website

BT Mobile

As of June 2016, BT Mobile has changed their policy so tethering in now permitted on all tariffs. This includes Pay Monthly contracts with a new handset and SIM-only deals.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on BT Mobile from £5/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
BT Mobile200Unlimited500MB£5.00
inc. £5 discount
BT Mobile500Unlimited4GB£10.00
inc. £5 discount
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£20.00
inc. £5 discount

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:

Prohibited use
25. You must not allow our service to be used:

b. to create your own personal hotspot which provides internet access to other devices which may be used by yourself or others (this is sometimes known as ‘tethering’); or

For more information, see the thread on BT’s Community Forums.

Source: BT Mobile
Tariff Information: BT Mobile Website

Co-Operative Mobile

The Co-Operative Mobile allows you to tether on their Pay As You Go service. From their Internet & Data FAQs page:

Can I use tethering?
We are happy for you to tether your phone to any other device, to share its internet connection, though we cannot guarantee that every phone will be compatible.

You can use the following Pay As You Go bundles to tether on the Co-Operative Mobile:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Co-operative Mobile2503,000500MB£10.00
Co-operative Mobile5003,0001GB£15.00
Co-operative Mobile1,0003,0002GB£20.00

Source: The Co-Operative Mobile: Internet & Data FAQs
Tariff Information: The Co-Operative Mobile Website

iD Mobile

Unfortunately, tethering is not permitted on iD Mobile. It’s prohibited by clause 5.3.4 of the iD Mobile terms and conditions:

5.3 You must not use the Services, the SIM Card or an iD phone number or allow anyone else to use the Services, the SIM or an iD phone number for illegal or improper uses, including but not limited to:

5.3.4 tethering (unless explicitly stated in your Agreement with us), downloading, sending or uploading content of an excessive size, quantity or frequency. We will contact you if your use is excessive;

Any such use shall give us the right to charge you any Charges due and terminate the Services immediately.

Source: iD Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: iD Mobile Website

Lebara Mobile

Lebara Mobile doesn’t allow tethering on their tariffs. From the terms and conditions of the Lebara Mobile UK Plus Pass:

Data usage under any UK Plus Pass is for mobile internet services and data consumption actually on your handset. It does not include using file to file peer sharing or using your handset as a modem to connect other devices such as laptops and tablets – also known as “Tethering”.

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.

Source: Lebara Mobile Passes Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Lebara Mobile Website

Lycamobile

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 offer is for non-commercial, private, personal use only – Lycamobile reserves the right to withdraw or suspend the offer or to disconnect you if we suspect that offer is being used for commercial purposes, for conferencing, or if it is not being used in a handset (in a SIM box for example), if it is being used for tethering or if any reason Lycamobile reasonably suspects that you are not acting in accordance with this policy where we consider that the usage was illegitimate.

Source: Lycamobile Bundles Page
Tariff Information: Lycamobile Website

Plusnet Mobile

On Plusnet Mobile (previously known as LIFE Mobile until the November 2016), it’s possible to tether on all of their SIM-only plans.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Plusnet Mobile from £5/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
No tariffs could be found matching this criteria.

If you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer, you can benefit from double data through the Mates Rates offer.

Source: Plusnet Mobile: Tariff FAQs
Tariff Information: Plusnet Mobile Website

Sky Mobile

On Sky Mobile, it’s possible to tether on all tariffs at no extra charge. A unique feature of the network is you also save unused data allowances in a “data piggybank” (this can be useful if you only need to tether very occasionally).

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Sky Mobile from £10/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Sky Mobile10p/min
Free for
TV customers
10p/txt
Free for
TV customers
1GB£10.00
Sky Mobile10p/min
Free for
TV customers
10p/txt
Free for
TV customers
3GB£15.00
Sky Mobile10p/min
Free for
TV customers
10p/txt
Free for
TV customers
5GB£20.00

If you’re a Sky TV customer, you’ll also receive unlimited calls and unlimited texts as part of your tariff.

Source: Sky Mobile website
Tariff Information: Sky Mobile website

Talkmobile

With Talkmobile, you can tether on any of their plans. For more information, go to their help pages and search for ‘tethering’. This will give you the tethering policy for their network:

Tethering (using your mobile as an internet hotspot for other devices) is included in all Talkmobile plans. You can tether if you have a data plan and have enabled Wi-Fi hotspot functionality on your phone.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Talkmobile from £7.50/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Talkmobile1,0005,0002GB£7.50
Talkmobile3,0005,0002GB£10.00
Talkmobile5,0005,00015GB£15.00

Source: Talkmobile Help Pages
Tariff Information: Talkmobile Website

TalkTalk Mobile

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:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
TalkTalk Mobile200Unlimited500MB£5.00
TalkTalk Mobile400Unlimited1GB£13.00
TalkTalk Mobile750Unlimited700MB£13.00
TalkTalk Mobile950Unlimited2GB£15.50
TalkTalk Mobile1,000Unlimited1.4GB£15.50

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.

Source: TalkTalk Help: Mobile Tethering
Tariff Information: TalkTalk Mobile Website

Tello

On Tello, it’s possible to tether on any of their tariffs. This is detailed in the Tello help centre:

Do you offer tethering?
Yes, tethering is available on Tello. You can share data through tethering (creating a hotspot) with any device capable to use a data connection. There are no limitations and no extra charges, besides the data usage that will be deducted from your national plan or Pay As You Go balance.

On Tello, you can build your own custom plan from £3/month. The following table gives some example plans from £5.50/month:

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
Tello100100500MB£5.50
Tello200Unlimited1GB£9.00
Tello500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Tello500Unlimited2GB£11.00
Tello500Unlimited3GB£12.00
TelloUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£14.00

Source: Tello Help Centre
Tariff Information: Tello UK Website

TPO Mobile

On TPO Mobile (The People’s Operator), tethering is prohibited on both Pay Monthly contracts and on Pay As You Go tariffs. The condition is specified in the network’s fair usage policy:

Using your phone as a modem (tethering) is not permitted.

Source: The People’s Operator: Fair Usage Policy (7th January 2015)
Tariff Information: The People’s Operator Website

Vectone Mobile

Vectone Mobile does not allow tethering on their network. This is mentioned in clause 5e of their network terms and conditions:

5(e) Vectone mobile reserves the right to withdraw or suspend the services or to disconnect you if we suspect that offer is being used for commercial purposes, for conferencing, or if it is not being used in a handset (in a SIM box for example), or if it is being used for tethering.

Source: Vectone Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Vectone Mobile Website

Virgin Mobile

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:

Data usage on some Virgin Media tariffs is for mobile internet services and data consumption actually on your handset. It does not include using your handset as a modem to connect other devices such as laptops and tablets – also known as “Tethering”. Please refer to your terms and conditions and other communications from Virgin Media to check whether this applies on your tariff. This applies to all new and upgrading customers since 24 January 2013.

If your contract was taken out before the 24th January 2013, you should check the exact terms and conditions for your tariff.

Source: Virgin Media: Terms and conditions of service
Tariff Information: Virgin Media Website

More Information

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.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

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.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 45 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. David R said:

    Ken – O2 PAYG will allow tethering – at least on a Big Bundle. I have been tethering my laptop to my Moto G (Ist Gen) and now to my Moto G4 when wifi has not been available for several years now.

    Excellent website, by the way. I cannot understand how I haven’t found it before.

    Thanks
    David R

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi David,
      Thanks for the heads up about this & for the kind comments about the website!
      Everything I’ve seen on the O2 community forums suggests tethering isn’t allowed on Pay As You Go. However, I’m not actually able to find this in their terms and conditions, so it’s possible their forums are mistaken or perhaps this is a policy they no longer actively enforce. If anyone else has further experiences, I’d love to hear them (or also if you’ve seen an official confirmation from O2 that tethering is now allowed on PAYG).
      Thanks,
      Ken

  2. Rob said:

    Hi Ken

    We are traveling to London and then throughout Spain for two weeks. I read from your postings that Asda allows tethering. How about when we get to Spain? We will have our own mobile for voices. Most probably tether through a tablet.

    Or alternatively is there a mifi / wifi hotspot device we could rent?

    cheers

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for your comment. ASDA Mobile does indeed allow tethering and I see no reason why you wouldn’t be able to tether in Spain as well. Regarding that, however, your UK bundle allowances can’t be used in Spain (instead, you’ll need to pay 5p/MB for data in the EU). Depending on how much data you’re planning to use, this is likely to make ASDA Mobile a cost-prohibitive option. I’d say if you’re planning to use more than 100MB of data (which no doubt you will over a 2-week trip), you’ll probably be better off getting a local SIM card in Spain.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  3. Sarah said:

    Super helpful. Thank you!

  4. Simon said:

    Hi

    It appears that Vodafone do NOT allow tethering on their PAYG products, at least on iPhones. Which is a bit of a pity.

  5. Maurizio Atzori said:

    I have a week of remote work planned in the U.K. and I could not believe my eyes reading your post.

    Thanks a lot, Ken!

  6. Keith said:

    Thank you Ken, very informative site.
    I currently have a Nokia Lumia 610 ‘phone which is low usage PAYG – used just for emergencies. I have now bought a new MacBook and wish to Tether or buy a dongle so that I can get the internet when WiFi is unavailable. It will be low usage. Do you have any comments on best way to achieve this?
    Please excuse my ignorance but can you also clarify the PAYG packages listed above at say £10 per month? My PAYG means I only pay if I use it, so how does the monthly cost come in? Thanks. Keith

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Keith,
      Thanks for your comment. You can use the tethering or portable hotspot feature on your Lumia 610 to achieve this – there’s information here on how to tether from Windows Phone. With regards to the PAYG packages listed above, these are actually Pay As You Go bundles where you convert your PAYG credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts & internet. As you say, you can actually tether on traditional Pay As You Go without getting a bundle (e.g. for 5p/MB on ASDA Mobile). However, this is only really suitable for very low usage (e.g. if you’re only using a couple of megabytes). Most people will probably be better off using a bundle (look out for automatic updates and other software on your laptop which can use up data very quickly).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      1. Keith replied:

        Thanks Ken, very clear and helpful. Keith.

  7. Alan Hart said:

    Hi Ken. Great page, thank you.

    Just an update suggestion – If I understand it correctly, the Vodafone comment about 20GB tethering being the biggest of all UK SIM cards appears to be out of date. The Three allowance is bigger and O2 have a 25GB plan I believe.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Alan,
      Thanks – you make a really good point – it was the largest available data allowance when this article was first written but that’s no longer the case now O2 and Three have released larger data packages. I’ll update the article above to reflect this ASAP.
      Thanks,
      Ken

  8. Hayden said:

    Hi just wanted to note that BT Mobile now lets users on iOS and Android tether 🙂

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Hayden,
      Fantastic news – thanks for sharing! I’ve just updated the article above to reflect this information 🙂
      Ken

  9. chris wilkinson said:

    Whether PAYG SIMs will work in a mobile wifi hotspot device or only a phone or tablet seems to be a prohibition not easily found on most of the networks. I’m looking for a PAYG that allows this but it’s hard to know.

    The talkmobile PAYG doesn’t seem to prohibit it but doesn’t explicitly allow it either.

    http://talkmobile.co.uk/current-tsandcs

  10. Sean said:

    Thank you for an informative article. One thing I have never understood is why the mobile networks have such an aversion to tethering on PAYG in the first place. I mean, surely 10/50/200MB consumed by a smartphone places the same load on the network as 10/50/200MB consumed by a tethered tablet or laptop.

    From the end user’s point of view a tethered device means he doesn’t have to squint at or scroll around a tiny phone screen to read stuff. And that shouldn’t be any of the network’s business.

    And if a user did decide to take advantage of the larger screen on a tethered device to go on a multimedia extravaganza, he would have to pay for the extra data from his PAYG airtime credit anyway, which would act as a natural deterrent to the temptation to use it to excess. He would either have to top-up generously, paying for what he uses to the benefit of the network, or see his credit rapidly drop to zero. The network doesn’t lose either way, so why are networks so reluctant to allow tethering on PAYG?

    (Writing as a user of Three’s 3-2-1 PAYG who would dearly love to surf through a tethered tablet rather than a piddly phone screen.)

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sean,

      Thanks for your message. I actually totally agree with you and also subscribe to the principle that if you’ve paid for some data you should be able to use it however you like.

      However, just to explain it from the mobile network’s perspective: when they sell you a certain amount of data they aren’t actually expecting you to use it all. For example, you might buy a 10GB/month package for £20/month. They’ll sell you the package with the full knowledge that it’s actually very very difficult to use all of the data (for the reasons you suggested, it isn’t particularly comfortable to go on a multimedia extravaganza when using a smartphone with a tiny screen!). Therefore, you might use only a fraction of your allowance (say you only actually use 2GB/month, then they’d actually be charging you £10/GB). When tethering is permitted, it’s much easier to use up the entirety of your allowance (you can easily stream lots of Netflix or YouTube in great comfort from your tethered laptop or tablet). This has a massive effect on the average price per gigabyte (e.g. if you used all 10GB, then they’d only be making £2/GB on average).

      Now, of course, this argument only applies to when you’re using a fixed price monthly bundle. In the example you mentioned where you need to pay on a per-megabyte basis, I can’t actually think of a a good reason why they shouldn’t allow tethering. Saying that, the chances are if you’re using a significant amount of data, you’ll be wanting to upgrade to a fixed-price bundle instead (in which case, the above argument will apply). I think it would just be untenable for the PAYG networks to allow tethering on their basic tariff but not on their monthly bundles (hence it’s much easier just to have blanket ban on tethering for all PAYG customers).

      In practice, most Pay Monthly mobile networks now allow you to tether (they’re building it into the cost and a ban on tethering is a big deterrent for new customers). Some of the lower-cost Pay Monthly networks still block tethering on their service, but these are gradually becoming more rare which I think is great news!

      Ken

  11. Arthur said:

    Excellent and very useful article, Ken! Thanks!

  12. Dean Williams said:

    Three have just told me of a great offer they have:

    All you can eat data + 30 GB Personal Hotspot + 200 Minutes for £23 a month rolling contract.

  13. Vincent said:

    Hello,

    Thanks for this brilliant summary of all the UK phone operators – it helped me to find a plan cheaper than my current one while getting double the data I was getting previously!

    I’d just like to point out that the Talkmobile plans have since been changed, and the prices and plan components need to be updated.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Vincent,
      Thanks for this and glad to know you found the website useful! I’ve just updated the Talkmobile tariffs – thanks so much for pointing this out!
      Ken

  14. PETER HOBBS said:

    Hi i didnt realise that Talk Mobile allowed tethering on their payg and monthly tariffs, is this a new development.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Peter,
      I’m not aware of the Talkmobile policy having changed recently, but it’s possible they’ve changed the tethering policy at some point in the past!
      Ken

      1. PETER Hobbs replied:

        Thanks for the information Ken, and your very informative website.

  15. Lee said:

    Hi,
    Very informative article. I am looking to switch to Three as am in Spain quite a lot and all your UK allowance can be used there, but disappointed to read that you can’t tether your phone as a hotspot to use the data for other devices.
    Does anyone know of a network/contract where that’s possible? I know o2 and EE have add-ons but for me that’ll work out too costly.
    Thanks.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lee,
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry, unfortunately I’m not sure which mobile networks allow you to tether when abroad. The article above gives you general information for when you’re in the UK, but some bolt-ons & add-ons for travelling abroad may have additional tethering restrictions. Your best bet would probably be to check the T&Cs on the website on each network operator. You could also consider getting a local Pay As You Go SIM card from Spain.
      Ken

  16. Gabor said:

    Ken,

    I wanted to thank you for this brilliant article, well organized.
    “The One Plan” I had with Three came to an end. Tethering is the most important aspect of the mobile for me. — I was in limbo where I’ll go next. Some of these providers I never heard of before. Just ordered my subscription from Life Mobile. Thank you.

  17. Jeff said:

    I just switched from o2 after ten years to ee. The reason is that they were unable to offer me a tethering enbled contract for the latest iphone. Can’t see how they expect to stay in business at this rate. What is the point of selling 20gb of data if you can’t use it?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe O2 does now offer tethering on all of their Pay Monthly contracts (so it’s odd you were told that tethering wasn’t possible!).
      Ken

  18. Clement said:

    Hi there,

    I was told by a Vodafone colleague that personal hotspot/tethering is only available for pay monthly plans, i.e. not available on PAYG plans. They have been very misleading as the sales team told me that it is allowed, but when I tried to enable it, the function is locked and the technical support staff told me that there is no way they can enable this feature as it is not supported.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Clement,
      Thanks for your comment & for the heads up on this. I had also previously heard that tethering was possible on Pay As You Go tariffs. However, on further investigation, it looks like it probably isn’t possible (there are also multiple reports on the Vodafone online community saying that tethering isn’t possible on Vodafone PAYG). Sorry for the confusion previously – I’ve now updated the article above to reflect this information.
      Ken

  19. Chris said:

    Hi,

    I got a tweet from iD Mobile saying that tethering is allowed – https://twitter.com/ID_Mobile_UK/status/701775034185031680

    HTH,
    Chris

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for the feedback! I believe the social media team at iD Mobile is wrong in this instance – you can see it here on their website:

      Please note that we do not allow tethering on any of our current plans. If you do use this service it is likely to use up large amounts of your data allowance very quickly, and you will be liable to pay any charge that may occur if you go over your allowance. Please check for updates on our website as this may change in the future.”

      I believe this is still the case unless there are some upcoming changes only that only the Twitter team know about!
      Ken

      1. Chris replied:

        Thanks Ken – I have pointed it out to them, will let you know their reply. Thanks for this page – very useful summary.

  20. Caleb Woodbridge said:

    Something that this article misses out is that some of the cheaper MNVOs such as Asda Mobile and Life are 3G-only rather than utilising 4G, which is a rather important if connection speed matters to you.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Caleb,
      Thank you for your feedback on this! You’re right: this is a really important point for people who care a lot about data speeds and 4G. In the tables above, you can hover your mouse over the data allowance to see further information about whether 4G is provided. I’ve also produced a coverage table here with information on which networks have 4G internet. I’ll have a think about whether there any ways we can make this clearer in the article above – thanks again for your feedback on this!
      Ken

  21. Jay said:

    Hi.

    I use T-Mobile Smart Pack £10. Pay as you go. That allow tethering? I can’t find info online. I use iPhone.

    Just worry if I try and get charge if they don’t allow.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jay,
      I don’t believe there’s any restriction on tethering from T-Mobile Pay As You Go (in fact, EE definitely allows this on their Pay As You Go ‘Everything Packs’ service). If you’d like an official confirmation, I recommend asking Customer Services directly (you can reach them by calling 150 on your T-Mobile handset).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      1. Jay replied:

        Ok thanks.

  22. Matt said:

    Hi, Thanks for the article, but i am still unsure what to do, I am not sure if it has changed since you published this site, but i am travelling to the UK in about a month and want to get a SIM to use in my (unlocked) iphone, and then tether to another device (either my wifes phone, so she can check mails etc, or my iPad) I am thinking Vodafone PAYG. According to your table above they DO allow tethering on PaYG, but from what i can find on their site (not much) they don’t.
    http://forum.vodafone.co.uk/t5/Pay-as-you-go-products-services/Tethering-and-use-with-Iphone-5S/td-p/2421346
    if that link does work (or i shouldn’t post it – sorry) to quote a highly ranked forum user he said on
    01-08-2015 11:58 PM, Re: Tethering and use with Iphone 5S, “Tethering is not available on any PAYG tariffs.”
    Please help. Cheers,
    Matt.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your comment & for sharing the link in your message. I’m not able to find anything on the Vodafone website which says tethering is not available (e.g. it’s not mentioned in the help & support and it also isn’t prohibited by the terms & conditions. It’s possible I might have missed it on their website but in general: if a certain type of usage isn’t explicitly prohibited in the terms & conditions, you can use the data allowance as you see fit for that purpose. Happy to stand corrected if anyone can provide me with a source!
      Thanks again,
      Ken

      1. Matt replied:

        Hi Ken, Thanks for taking the time to check, I am still deciding which provider to go with, someone told me yesterday they use EE and the coverage is better and they can tether, although, they are on a contract, so doesn’t help for the PAYG. I will keep my eyes open and let you know if i find anything out, or failing that, once i am on my trip, i will post the outcome. Cheers.

  23. Andrew M said:

    Tesco Mobile’s PAYG deal is actually better than the SIM-only contract offer. Top-up £20, then use it to buy an 8GB bundle which lasts 30 days. This allows tethering (as stated in the T&C, and I can confirm I’ve been tethering with it for the last couple of weeks).

    You can even squeeze out a further 0.9GB from the tariff: they give you a free 500MB bundle just for topping up £15 or more; and you also get “triple-credit”, meaning you have £40 which makes another 400MB of data (at 10p/MB).

    For short-term use e.g. summer holidays, this is much easier than signing up to a monthly SIM-only contract then remembering to cancel before getting charged for another month.

    My only complaint with this deal is that 8GB may not be enough for a modern family on a week’s holiday!

  24. George said:

    Thanks for this info. Ken, I have one query though: what of Talkmobile?

    I know that both Talktalk Mobile and Talkmobile use the Vodafone network (the latter now being owned by it), however, since the Carphone Warehouse ceased to represent Talkmobile last week, I am unclear as to which of their previous Vodafone gizzmos they utilize.

    George

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi George,
      Thanks for your comment. I presume your contract with Talkmobile was started before February 2015? If so, tethering is prohibited by clause 7.8 of their network terms and conditions:
      “Your SIM Card and Tariff can only be used in a mobile phone or tablet device. Your SIM Card and/or Mobile Device cannot be used in conjunction with or as a modem, dongle or Mobile Hotspot device unless stated at point of sale.”
      For customers joining after February 2015, I couldn’t see any clauses in their new terms and conditions which prohibit tethering. But, as you say, the Carphone Warehouse no longer offers contracts from Talkmobile – it’s now been replaced by iD Mobile (Talkmobile only remains as an online-only brand, operated by Vodafone).
      Ken

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