‘All You Can Eat’ Data Reviewed: Unlimited 4G Internet from Three

July 11th, 2014

With Three’s all-you-can-eat data, you get unlimited 4G internet and no download limits.

ThreeIn the UK, Three is fairly unique in having ‘all you can eat’ data without any download limits. All-you-can-eat data is available on a range of plans including Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go tariffs. You get access to Three’s ultrafast 4G network included with your plan (a 4G handset is required for this service) and there’s up to 4GB of tethering included every month (excludes Pay As You Go plans). There’s also the ability to use your phone abroad in 16 other countries at no extra charge.

In this article, we review Three’s all-you-can-eat data. We’ll look at the pros and cons of the service and review the range of tariffs offering unlimited data. We’ll also compare all-you-can-eat data to rival offerings from other mobile networks (e.g. giffgaff’s unlimited internet on their 3G goodybags).

What is ‘All You Can Eat’ Data?

Unlimited Internet: No Download Limits

What is All You Can Eat Data?

All-you-can-eat data is truly unlimited (there’s no hidden limits or fair usage policies).

Since 2010, Three has been fairly unique in offering all-you-can-eat data without any download limits. Unlike other networks, there isn’t a fair usage policy for all-you-can-eat data (i.e. there isn’t a hidden limit where you’ll lose your internet connection or where your speeds are reduced). You can simply use as much data as you like without ever having to worry about extra charges or limits.

With most other networks, there’s a more restrictive limit on how much data you can use. To give an example, customers on EE need to choose an allowance between 500MB and 50GB per month (the most expensive plan is £75/month for 50GB of data). On Three, all-you-can-eat data starts from £28/month (or £15 on a SIM only deal). You’ll often pay less compared to other networks and you’ll gain the freedom to use the full functionality of your smartphone without ever needing to worry.

Note: The Three website sometimes refers to a monthly download limit of 1,000GB. The 1,000GB figure is based on a physical limit: how much data you’d be able to use if you were downloading from your phone 24/7. According to Three website:

“Even if you used your phone for every minute of every day you could only use, subject to TrafficSense™, around 1000GB each month.”

Download Speeds

4G Logo

4G: Included at no extra charge.

4G is the latest generation of mobile network technology. Compared to 3G, it gives you even fast downloads: average download speeds are around 15Mbit/s (this compares to 4Mbit/s on standard 3G).

A major benefit of Three’s all-you-can-eat data tariffs is the inclusion of 4G at no extra charge. Providing you have a compatible 4G handset and providing you live in a 4G coverage area, you can use your unlimited downloads on Three’s 4G network.

The following table (taken from our guide to download speeds) shows how download times compare for different types of content on 4G and 3G:

Activity 4G Download Time 3G Download Time
Accessing typical web page 0.1 seconds 0.2 seconds
Sending an e-mail without attachments <0.1 seconds <0.1 seconds
Downloading high-quality photograph 1 second 4 seconds
Downloading an music track (MP3) 3 seconds 10 seconds
Downloading an application 3 seconds 12 seconds

For this comparison table, we have used average download speeds of 15Mbit/s on 4G (LTE) and 4Mbit/s on 3G (HSPA+). Typical file sizes used in our calculations: 100KB for a webpage, 10KB for a basic e-mail, 2MB for a high-quality photograph, 5MB for a music track and 6.1MB for a typical application download. Source: Ken’s Tech Tips guide to download speeds.

Other networks with unlimited data are currently restricted to 3G-only.

Tethering & Personal Hotspot

Android Portable Hotspot

2GB of tethering is included on Pay Monthly.

Tethering or portable hotspot means sharing your phone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with a laptop, tablet, MP3 player, e-book reader or games console). It’s essentially a way to get mobile broadband without signing a separate contract. To use it, you either need a smartphone supporting portable wi-fi hotspot or a USB cable to connect your smartphone to a laptop.

On Pay Monthly plans with all-you-can-eat data, 2GB of tethering is included every month. For SIM only plans, this is doubled to 4GB of free tethering every month. It’s a fairly decent freebie (Three will normally charge £7.50/month for a 1GB standalone mobile broadband tariff). Additional data for tethering beyond your limit will cost you £5/month for an extra 1GB.

Tethering isn’t supported on Pay As You Go plans.

Throttling & Traffic Management

Three has a traffic management policy known as TrafficSense. According to their key facts indicator, P2P file-sharing (e.g. BitTorrent) is slowed down on the network between 3pm and midnight each day. They also use video optimisation (videos are only downloaded at the rate at which you’re able to watch them):

data-binaryWe allocate a fixed amount of network bandwidth to P2P file-sharing activities and to tethering activities at peak times to manage network congestion and provide the best possible experience for the greatest number of users.

We use video optimisation to change the way video content is streamed to your device to make it play better. We use it to improve your streaming experience if our network is busy where you are.

The key factors indicator confirms that your speeds won’t be reduced for using too much data (see the section “Is traffic management used in relation to heavy users?”).

‘All You Can Eat’ Tariffs

All-you-can-eat data is available on a range of plans (SIM Only, Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go):

SIM Only (Keep Your Current Phone)

If you’re happy to keep your current handset, it’s £17/month for a SIM only deal with all-you-can-eat data. There’s also 200 minutes and all-you-can-eat texts included with the plan.

For a larger number of minutes, a range of other options are also available:

12 month contract:


1 month contract:


If you’re switching from another network to Three, it’s super-easy to keep your old phone number. You might need to unlock your current smartphone (see our guides to unlocking an iPhone or unlocking a Samsung Galaxy).

Pay Monthly (With New Handset)

For a Pay Monthly contract which includes a new handset, prices start from £28/month (you’ll pay more for the latest high-end smartphones such as the Galaxy S5). On Pay Monthly, you’re given the choice between 600 minutes per month and all-you-can-eat minutes. Both tariff options include all-you-can-eat texts.

For a full list of available handsets, please see the Three website.

Pay As You Go

On Pay As You Go, there’s a £15 bundle for all-you-can-eat data. The All in One 15 tariff includes 300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data. You can either use an unlocked smartphone purchased from elsewhere or you can buy a new handset via Three’s website. At present, our recommended handset is the Moto G 4G (see our guide to the cheapest Moto G deals).


Mobile MastThree currently offers coverage to 98% of UK’s population. To check the coverage for your area, enter your postcode on Three’s online coverage checker. We would only recommend choosing Three if you’re able to get “indoor & outdoor coverage”.

For calling, texting and browsing, you’ll need to have 3G coverage. For even faster internet, 4G is currently available in 30 towns and cities. According to Three, 4G coverage will roll out in 446 towns and cities by the end of this year (a full list of towns & cities can be found on the Three website).

Check Three Coverage »

Travelling Abroad

Feel At HomeIf you’re travelling abroad to one of sixteen countries, the ‘Feel At Home’ offer allows you to use your phone abroad at no extra charge. You can use your inclusive UK airtime allowances though all-you-can-eat data has a 25GB/month limit when travelling abroad. Tethering isn’t permitted when travelling abroad.

‘Feel At Home’ is currently available in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America. For more information, please read our full review of the ‘Feel At Home’ offer.


All-you-can-eat data is simply a marketing term used by Three. Other networks also offer unlimited internet: notably giffgaff has a £18/month goodybag with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited 3G internet (you can order a free SIM card here). Virgin Mobile also offers unlimited 3G internet (through speeds are reduced after the first 3.5GB/month).

If you’re looking for unlimited downloads on 4G, the ability to tether and the ability to use your phone abroad at no extra charge, all-you-can-eat data is the best offering on the market.

Network Monthly Price Fair Usage Limit Speeds Tethering Use Abroad?
Three From £15.00/month No Limit 3G & 4G Up to 4GB/month Yes, 25GB/month in 16 countries
giffgaff From £18.00/month No Limit 3G only Not Permitted Not Included
Virgin Mobile From £23.00/month 3.5GB per month 3G only Not Permitted Not Included

Keeping Your Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to Three

Customers on another network can bring their phone number to Three.

If you’re changing mobile networks to get all-you-can-eat data, it’s easy to keep your existing phone number. You can transfer a phone number to Three from any UK network.

To get started, ask your old network to issue you with a PAC Code (it’s free and it’s your legal entitlement). After ordering your new phone or SIM card from Three, fill out the form here on Three’s website. After providing the PAC Code to Three, they’ll schedule the transfer of your phone number for the next working day. In the meantime, you’ll continue receiving service on your old mobile network until the transfer happens.

For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three

Your current network provider:

  More Options

More Information

For more information on all-you-can-eat data, please see the guide on Three’s website. The Three website also has a full list of all-you-can-eat data tariffs (see the Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go pages).

Visit Three Website »

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 60 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Nick Clatworthy said:

    When tethering, I too have struggled with data transmission rates too low to be of any use. I have had this trouble with Giffgaff but it seems other people have had the same with Three. Giffgaff assures me that there is nothing wrong at their end and that I am doing nothing wrong. My cure is to do a reset. All I have to do is to put the SIM into another phone and I am back up to full speed at once but only until I am throttled again. I think you can reset the original phone with a SIM from another company. My plan is to use SIMs from Three and Giffgaff in two phones and swap them over as the need arises. Inconvenient to say the least.

  2. Gordon said:

    Just thought I would say that I went from London to Edinburgh on the train this week and watched streaming video on my phone most of the way on Three with only two or three short drops of signal. I used about 25GB of data. Highly impressive and I only pay £17 per month for the sim card.

    Incidentally, when I phoned them recently to cancel another sim card they waned to reduce my £17 to £9 in some sort of effort to make me stay. It might be worth haggling if you feel its worth the risk of them accidentally cancelling the wrong contract.

  3. Angie said:

    Further to Matt Kettle’s comment – I have an unlockled 3 Mobile Mifi device which I use use in Spain. Last year, I simply went to a Vodafone shop in Spain and bought a SIM with 2GB of data, activated it through my iphone and then transferred it to the Mifi – it worked fine for the duration of the 2GB of data.

    However, as 3 Mobile (I currently have all the family on 3 mobile for our phones) have included Spain in their Feel At Home package, I want to buy a PAYG SIM with as much data as possible, activate it in my phone and then move it to the Mifi – and use it at no extra cost in Spain – is this going to be possible?

    I know that officially the answer is NO! I have read that 3 Mobile can detect that the SIM is being used in a Mifi and block it – can this block it outside of the UK? Has anyone tried this?

    As I said, I know that if I ask 3 Mobile, they will say it can’t be done because they will lose a shed load of money – but CAN it be done in reality? Do they have the tech to block a SIM being used outside of the UK?

    1. Lucy replied:

      If you put phone sim into a mifi unit, 3 will block your internet whether you are in UK or abroad. It happened to me so I suggest you get a PAYG data sim instead.

      1. David replied:

        If 3 block a Sim because they detect it as a phone sim in a mifi unit. Does the sim get blocked permanently or can it be taken out of the mifi and put back into an iPhone and work again?
        I’m trying to use a 3 pay as you go sim in Spain with all you can eat data. I’m travelling on the 14th November and haven’t registered the sim yet.

  4. samantha said:

    Dear Ken

    I recently transferred mine and my daughters mobile numbers to 3 all you can eat.

    Vodafone have emailed me two bills, one for November (£57) and one for December (£12.50).

    As I have transferred, it appears I no longer have access to my Vodafone online account (and therefore can’t look at or print any past or current bills). I called their customer services, and after a long wait found out the chap I was speaking to is in Egypt, with poor English. He cannot access my account either or send bills to me as the account has been changed to 3. This seems unreasonable.

    Surely I should be able to look at/print my last 12 months bills for business expense purposes and surely I should be able to see the details of what they are billing me for. All he could say was I had to go into a Vodafone mobile shop in the UK, but as I travel a lot and am in France currently so this isn’t an option.

    Does anyone know if they are allowed to effectively stop access to all of your previous account information like that or have any advice as to how, other than going into a UK Vodafone shop, I can access details of the two most recent bills.?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, Vodafone will automatically disable your online account area when you move to another network. It should still be possible to get hold of your old bills but you’ll need to contact a member of Customer Services (e.g. see a similar question from the Vodafone online forums). I know this isn’t a huge amount of help as you’ve already tried calling Customer Services. I would, however, try calling again as another member of their team could prove more helpful. Alternatively, you could message one of the Tech Team on Vodafone’s online forums (they tend to be pretty helpful in answering your queries!)

  5. DB said:

    Great article. Very informative.

    Just touching on some of the comments related to throttling… I am on a Note 4 (have never tethered) with an all you can eat data 4G contract. When I first received my phone I regularly saw 11Mbps and occasionally dropped to 7Mbps.

    Now (in the same location), I receive 0.02Mbps. I have racked up 8GB in data download in 1 month through YouTube and maybe some Skype calls. Again, I’ve not tethered yet. I have seen these speeds for a number of days now at varying times of the day (even as early as 6AM).

    This is almost certainly three’s throttling in effect. I was assured there were no fair usage policies, but am wondering if something else was tucked away in a contract or additional document that I’ve missed.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Kevin replied:

      It looks like you’ve been a victim of Three’s “Traffic Sense” policy.

      Basically, their traffic management system has determined your data usage .. is far too high, and because you’re a member of the peak-time data hogger brigade, they’ve decided temporarily slowing down your data connection ‘will make it fair for other users’. I believe this is a temporary measure and they only target a small percentage of the top-tier active users on any given mast. So, if you live in the middle of a city you’re less likely to be traffic managed than someone in a small town. Note “unlimited data” is different to “unlimited bandwidth”. They don’t make promises they’ll deliver it at consistently high speeds. In theory they could traffic manage you down to 56 Kbps and still class their service as “unlimited data” as they wont stop offering this service. It’s a bit sneaky IMHO and how they can claim to offer unlimited 4G whilst giving you less than a quarter of 1Mbps is ridiculous. GiffGaff also do this.


      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Thanks Kevin – great reply! I do wonder how this matches up with Three’s Traffic Management Policy (traffic management should only apply from 3PM to midnight and should only affect a couple of activities (e.g. P2P). It’s possible they could have updated the policy or perhaps they’re not totally transparent about how traffic management is used.

  6. parminder said:

    Hi Ken

    Really interesting website.

    Just have a quick question if I keep my t-mobile unlimited data package on 3G put received through a 4G phone would I also get 4G phone service against my 3G contract?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Parminder,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, T-Mobile is a 3G-only network (you’ll need to upgrade to EE if you’d like to have a 4G service). It’s still possible to use a 4G handset on the T-Mobile network but you’ll only have access to 2G and 3G.

  7. Nuno said:

    Hi there,
    I was intrigued by the “all you can eat data” deal on pay as you go – it seems you can have access to the £15 deal with a 30 day contract instead of 12 months.
    Great stuff!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Nuno,
      Indeed – the £15 deal on Pay As You Go (300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data) is probably even better than the SIM only Pay Monthly deal (£18/month for 200 minutes, unlimited texts and all-you-can-eat data on a 30-day contract). Do be aware however that tethering is only permitted on Pay Monthly tariffs.

      1. Ben replied:

        Even though tethering isn’t ‘permitted’ on PAYG, I’ve been doing it for months and nothing has been done on my end. I am one of the victims of TrafficSense but there’s not really any other option for me.

        My town is pretty small and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was only one of 10 people using the mast in my area.

  8. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi all,
    From Dan at CoolSmartphone, it’s now reported that Three are gradually moving customers on The One Plan over to new plans without unlimited tethering (all-you-can-eat data is still available but only with 2GB or 4GB of tethering). It’s only being done for customers outside of the minimum term of their contract. Unfortunately, this will remove one of the ways where existing customers are able to bypass the new limit on tethering by continuing their old contract and buying a SIM-free handset elsewhere.

  9. Common sense said:

    If you follow the ‘all you can eat data’ terms and conditions by using it EXCLUSIVELY on your smartphone, you will not be throttled at all. Give it a whirl and thank me later.

    1. shinyheed replied:

      I don’t tether but I’m sat right now with a download speed of a quarter meg and upload of 10 meg, that’s throttling and it happens regularly

  10. Well_Disgruntled said:

    I do not have a Three mobile phone but I want to change from EE back to Three for my mobile dongle broadband.

    I used to have a 3G Three PAYG dongle, but went with EE for 4G. But they turned out to be absolute rubbish because of their broken Content Lock malware.

    Is it possible to get one of these 4G Broadband deals with a mobile dongle?

    Many Thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Have you tried contacting EE to turn off the Content Lock setting? I too have experienced problems with the settings (at one stage, I believe Twitter was even blocked by the default Content Lock setting!)
      With regards to Three, unfortunately it isn’t possible to get a mobile broadband SIM with all-you-can-eat data. For dongles, you’ll need to get one of their mobile broadband SIM cards. The largest package currently available is 10GB of data for £15/month on Pay As You Go.

      1. Well_Disgruntled replied:

        Oh, Dear God, what do you think I have been doing every week for the last few months? The decision is made. I do not want your ridiculous suggestions about EE, I am asking ONLY about THREE.

        Yes! I AM in a very bad mood! 🙂

        Sorry! Their damned MALWARE is broken. It activates itself for no damned reason and does not just block Twitter and Farcebook, it blocks scientific, comedy and music videos on YouTube and even PubMed, for serious scientific articles. Sometimes, it blocks every site I manage to visit AFTER I have visited it.

        It is a heap of s***. And it is not needed as I have an OS, a browser and an Antivirus/Security package which have Content Filters that WORK.

        Even Google has its own Content Filter – and it WORKS.

        And, in any case, there is a HUGE difference between 17 and 4 years old, so this “under 18” c*** is stupid. You can marry and have children at 16, but EE won’t let people look at Page 3 images, or videos of Freddy Mercury? Why? Because he died of HIV AIDS? How does THAT “protect” 17 year olds?

        And everyone using my PC will have their own, separate log-on account with their own content filters.

        EE’s Content Lock does not Filter Content – it just blocks access to the internet.

        That is why they called it Content LOCK, not Content Filter.

        In fact, it blocks EVERYTHING legal, decent, honest and truthful that I want from the Internet. Including PG-rated MMO PC games and old HD Led Zeppelin videos – the very reason I bought the 2 year contract in the first place.

        £50 a month 2 year contract for 50 GB 4G broadband.

        Why does THREE not have such a package?


        There are a lot of people scammed by EE who are looking at alternative ISPs.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi there,
          Very sorry to hear about your problems on EE – I was only trying to help based on my experience! It does sound as if the content filter is badly broken on your account and I’m not really sure why this is happening.
          With regards to a large data allowance on a mobile broadband tariff, unfortunately it is hard to find and I believe only EE are currently offering such a large data package on mobile broadband tariffs. The reason for this is partly because they have the most widespread 4G coverage across the UK (4G technology greatly reduces the per-megabyte cost for the mobile network operator). With the other networks still having limited 4G coverage, it could be a while until it’s economical for other networks to offer a similar package. Three is probably the closest with 10GB for £15/month. Unlimited data is available when you’re using a smartphone but tethering is limited to either 2GB or 4GB of internet per month.

          1. Well_Disgruntled replied:

            What does this mean?

            “On Three, all-you-can-eat data starts from £28/month”

            How does 2 to 4 GB equate as “all-you-can-eat”? I assure you, I can eat MORE than 30 GB a month with no trouble at all.

            WHEN IT WORKS!

            Could I get a Smart Phone and plug it into my Desktop as if it were a dongle and use my 24″ monitor instead of the ludicrously, hopelessly inadequate telephone screen, and get unlimited Internet Access that way?



        2. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi there,
          I noticed an update today on EE’s website about this very issue. Might be worth taking a look if you’re still on EE and having problems with the filter?

          1. Well_Disgruntled replied:

            Sorry, I am often in an absolutely foul mood these days because of this. I rely on the Internet for almost EVERYTHING. Including finding an alternative ISP!

            And half the time it does not work, either because of #EE’s CONTENT LOCK MALWARE# or, like today, it is running like cold treacle, the connection drops every few minutes and it says that almost every internet page cannot be found. I am AMAZED I got through to this page.

            It is 16:00, Sunday, 26th October, 2014, and since 11:00 AM this morning NOTHING but shit!!

            I cannot even post on EE’s site to tell them how bad they are, taking my money and giving me nothing but grief.

            It is not just irritating, distressing and infuriating, it can be soul-destroying. MY PC is all I have. I have no TV and cannot even watch anything on YouTube.

            Look, THREE!

            HERE is my CREDIT CARD!!! I AM WAVING MY WALLET!!!



            I still have 27 GB to use up in the next 8 hours, anyway. I want to cancel my contract, block the direct debit and go with someone else. NOW.

            “Three is probably the closest with 10GB for for £15/month.”

            Is that PAYG? 10 GB is nowhere near enough. But 30 GB for £45 might be. As long as it is genuinely unthrottled, 4G, minimum 100 Mbps.

            “Unlimited data is available when you’re using a smartphone but tethering is limited to either 2GB or 4GB of internet per month.”

            What? What is “tethering”? So this article on unlimited internet access is a lie, after all?


  11. Matt kettle said:

    No tethering abroad is a big problem, means airport time and any foreign travel where there is no wifi is restricted to phone for e mailing etc. do any other networks allow this?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your comment. Three won’t allow you to tether from your phone when using your handset abroad in a country with unlimited data (e.g. with the Euro Internet Pass or the Feel At Home offer). One thing you could consider doing is getting a Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband SIM card. You can still use the ‘Feel At Home’ offer with a mobile broadband SIM card so it’s perfect for using your laptop abroad at the airport. It’s £10.49 for 1GB of data (lasts for 1 month) or £70.49 for 12GB of data (lasts for a maximum of 12 months).
      With regards to other networks, quite a few of them should normally allow you to tether when abroad. However, do bear in mind you’ll probably be paying at least £6/MB for the privilege of doing this (less if you’re travelling within Europe).

  12. Ethos Evoss said:

    The 4G speeds are just a gimmick!!!
    They aren’t fast whatsoever… It is just lying like in every business…
    What a ridiculousness I am on 4G and speeds are only 4Mbps and upload is 25? that what I never use ? F*** off 3-UK!!! You are THROTTLERS!!!

  13. Mike C said:

    You can’t ever get a clear answer from three – So- my plan is to say – if I lose my unlimited tethering – then I switch – Some say if I continue to, simply, pay then my service will continue. I say that if they alter my plan in any way – I’m just going with another provider – end of!!!! I’ve been with these people for years.

  14. Steve said:

    hello – very helpful article – Do you know what would happen after you hit the limit for the 4 GB tethering ? Does it just stop , or is there a risk of incurring unexpected charges? Thank you

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your comment. The tethering should stop automatically and you’ll be asked to buy an additional bundle. It’s £5/month for 1GB of extra data for tethering.
      Hope this helps!

  15. Richard said:

    I’m on the one plan with tethering at the moment with an iPhone 5 and was considering upgrading to an iPhone 6plus. Looking at the tethering limits for the all you can eat plan now would it be better for me to buy the iphone6 from Apple and continue using my one plan to get the unlimited tethering?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment. If you do want to keep the unlimited tethering, it would be necessary to stay on your current plan (The One Plan). You could still upgrade your handset by buying the iPhone 6 Plus SIM-free and unlocked (prices would start at £619 for the 16GB version).

      Before doing so however, I would consider the cost implications. To give an example, let’s say you’re currently paying £45/month for all-you-can-eat data and unlimited tethering (This is a ballpark estimate as I’m not totally sure how much your contract currently costs!). If you were to keep the current contract and to buy a SIM-free 16GB iPhone 6 Plus, you’d pay £619 today plus £45/month on an on-going basis.

      If you were to switch to a new plan, you’d have two options:
      1. Get the iPhone 6 Plus on a contract from Three. It’s £99 upfront plus £51/month for all-you-can-eat data and 2GB of tethering. You would save £385 compared to the option suggested (you’d save £529 upfront but you’d pay £6/month extra for the next 24 months).
      2. Get a SIM-free iPhone 6 Plus and switch over to one of Three’s SIM only contracts. For all-you-can-eat data and 4GB of tethering, you’d pay £619 upfront to Apple and then £23/month for a SIM only deal. The cost saving is £22/month (or £528 over the 24 month contract).

      So unless you actually need more than 2GB or 4GB per month tethering, I’d strongly recommend switching to a new plan. Even if you required more tethering, it’s £5/month extra for 1GB of additional tethering. Hence, it would still be cheaper to switch to over a new SIM-only plan unless you require more than 8GB of tethering per month (i.e. you’d pay £43/month for all-you-can-eat data and 8GB of tethering).

      Hope this helps!


      1. Mike C replied:

        Well – Does this mean that I can simply choose to continue to pay, using my existing contract and my tethering will continue as before???? – Please do not give an ambiguous answer.

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Mike,
          Please accept my apologies – I was trying to provide as much info as possible when answering the question posed by Richard above. To answer your question in a more concise way, yes – you’re able to keep your existing tariff with all-you-can-eat tethering if you continue to pay. If you later choose to upgrade to a new plan, your tethering would drop down to only 2GB/month (4GB/month on a SIM only plan).
          Despite it being possible to keep your old plan, it probably isn’t cost-effective for the majority of users. In Richard’s example, he’d actually save £22/month by dropping down to all-you-can-eat data with only 4GB of tethering. He could use this extra money to add more data for tethering on his new plan – it would only become cost-effective to keep the old contract if he were to use more than 8GB of tethering per month.
          Hope this helps,

  16. Liam said:

    Just to let you know Ken that from the 24th of this month GiffGaff will no longer be offering unlimited data on it’s £12 package, the price has been raised to £18.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Liam,
      Thanks for the heads up on this! We’ll be updating the prices for giffgaff across our website in the coming few days 🙂

  17. Bernard Ryan said:

    I have had similar problems of speed being slowed down by 3 to 2 mbps, And similar upload speeds, A reboot of my phone has solved the problem, I think for £23, For what i get is a good deal, I dont know how there MIFI Broadband is, Maybe someone will tell us

  18. nick said:

    Three is an absolute joke. They sell you all of these great features like ‘unlimited data’ but between 3pm and 12am they seriously throttle you. Download Speeds go from 8-10mb down to less than 0.5 mbs. You literally can’t do a thing. Web pages take ages to load, forget trying to watch a video on your way home from work.

    Three sounds great, using it is a completely different thing!!! AVOID!!!!

  19. Bernard Ryan said:

    I took out a monthly sim only deal with three, Unlimited 4g with unlimited tethering, 2000 min and unlimited text, I have had it now 6 months, I was told i am in a very good area for 4g, And there on line checker confirms that, But i have never hit a 4g connection ever, And ive tried my phone all over the house bottom of garden etc, But def no 4g, There on line checker is incorrect and cant be trusted, I have made 4 complaints to there on line complaints form, But completely ignored ,

    1. Bernard Ryan replied:

      And Ken your web page says ( Up to 4GB/month Tethering from 3 ) I can assure you i get unlimited tethering from 3,

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Hi Bernard,
        Thanks for your comment. In the past, The One Plan included all-you-can-eat data and unlimited tethering. Unfortunately, Three have now changed their tariffs (The One Plan is no longer available). A tariff taken today with all-you-can-eat data would either have 2GB of tethering (Pay Monthly contracts with a new handset) or 4GB of tethering (SIM only deals where you keep your current handset).
        Hope this helps!

        1. Bernard Ryan replied:

          Thanks Ken i bought my own 4g phone, And got the monthly contract, I pay £23.00 a month, And get unlimited tethering, I must use at least 4gb a week, I watch a lot of youtube, I have been in some parts of the country, Were i have had some fantastic speeds, Ive hit over 50 kbps in some places, I was thinking of getting a 3 mifi unit, With the, Ariel on it, So to get a better signal, But it is suggested that my sim may not work in the 3 mifi, Do you know if this is correct for sure, As after reading some forums, Some people have said it works ok.

          1. Ken Lo
            Ken replied:

            Hi Bernard,
            Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the terms and conditions of The One Plan SIM card prohibit you from using the SIM card in a mobile broadband device (this includes the 3 MiFi unit). Whilst it is possible from a technical perspective (i.e. the SIM cards are 100% compatible), it’s likely to be noticed by Three and you may find them suspending your account. Hence, for this reason, I’d strongly recommend against doing so.
            Three do have some mobile broadband SIM cards (e.g. £15/month for 10GB of data). For use in a MiFi, this probably works out as being even cheaper and will fully comply with the terms and conditions.
            Hope this helps!

  20. Robert said:


    Great article, a good read!! When I’m free to cancel my current contract with another provider, I’m planning to get the cheapest SIM-only all-you-can-eat data contract. When I’m on holiday in one of Three’s Feel at Home countries, could I transfer the SIM into an unlocked MiFi device and use the data up to the 25GB/month limit (essentially, fooling the SIM card into thinking that the data is being used by the “phone” and not other devices)?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your comment and for the kind words about the article! Unfortunately, it’s not possible to use your smartphone SIM card within a MiFi (it’s possible from a technical perspective but doesn’t comply with Three’s terms and conditions). Also, you can’t tether abroad in a Feel At Home country (hence using the data on devices apart from your phone).
      One thing you could do is to get a Mobile Broadband SIM card before you go on holiday. £15 gets you 10GB of data on a 1 month contract. You can use this SIM within a MiFi or also in your phone (albeit with no calls & texts included). Mobile broadband packages are fully compatible with the Feel At Home offer (see the info from Three’s website).
      Hope this helps!

  21. Jay Mac said:

    One Plan scrapped a week before i was able to upgrade have now replaced that contract with BT for broadband for the house.
    When my other remaining one plan contract expires it too gets the chop. Three say coverage 98% of country. I’m a truck driver and to be honest i have a Vodaphone sim as back up as three’s mobile internet signal is rubbish for at least 50% of the country and I do need a phone even if no internet available.

  22. Paskwal said:

    Working very well for me, the 4G is so fast that I prefer it to my home wifi. For the price, even if there might be some throttling sometimes, I don’t see which other contract I could take for unlimitted data at the moment.

  23. Shaun said:

    here are the new sim only plans from 3, no where near as good as the one plan i feel…


  24. Shaun said:

    This weekend is the last time all you can eat tethering is available in the UK from any network. the brilliant one plan tariff from 3 will be updated on Monday night. the new yet to be revealed 3 tariffs are a real disappointment.
    if you are a heavy data user & like to tether to other devices sign up now to the one plan before its too late…

  25. James Heath said:

    There’s certainly much confusion about what’s on offer with three.But i can only comment on my own experience. I’ve been on The One Plan September last year and have had no problems whatsoever. Download speeds are brilliant, regularly running at 20mbps to 30mbps and teather my laptop and NowTv box too.
    If all of the information in this article are true then the only important bit is

    “On certain masts that are congested, Three applies a traffic management system called TrafficSense. Between 6pm and midnight, P2P services and software updates may be slowed down.”
    And “Three’s all-you-can-eat data plans do not have a download limit or a fair usage policy.”

    Brilliant. 🙂

  26. malika said:

    hi , i just took the ultimate internet 500 contract on the iphone 5s , but i have no service in my house can’t get a home signal box because i dont have broadband . i pay 37 per month called up three . they said they would let me pay 30 per month since it is not possible for me to use my data but i feel i should pay 27 since i can’t use the internet . should i haggle for 27 ?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Malika,
      Thanks for your comment! I’d certainly haggle and try to get the best price possible from Three – obviously the internet connectivity is a big part of your service and if you aren’t able to use it then you should try to get the lowest price possible.
      Alternatively, it would be even better if you can escape the contract and to choose another network which offers coverage in your house. The biggest problem is you’re probably locked in to a 24 month contract – with no way of escaping (except from paying early termination fees). As such, you have limited bargaining power when arguing with Three and you might be forced to pay whatever they offer. So I’d certainly try for £27/month but there’s no guarantee they’ll offer it to you!

      1. Red replied:

        Surely, this cannot be this case. I’m no techie but I’ve study contract law as part of my degree and if Three are not providing the service you signed a contract for, then they are in beech of the contract, hence, you should be able to terminate the contract with no penalties!

  27. zombie_jesus said:

    Good thing I found this as I was just about to pull the trigger on ‘The One’. But these comments are ancient so perhaps it’s been resolved now? Also, I use Tmobile payg and it DOES permit tethering. Hell, I’m tethering as I type this.

  28. sunjaybhogal said:

    I can confirm that Three Network are throttling speed during 3pm and Midnight, I notice that when I am streaming movies. I am more like to use streaming during that time especially during the weekend and evening. What is the point all all much as you want data when you getting download steaming speed.

  29. Julia said:

    Is there the Micro-sim card available for the pay as you to, all you can eat data from 3?

  30. Hector said:

    I am on the same plan and I can confirm what Dean is saying, I have also asked Three if they could tell me what the limits are before you get throttled and they will not give me a straight answer. All the tell me is well if you use your phone for web browsing it is ok but if you use it for streaming video such as You tube that would be considered a high date consumption, Oh my god!!!!
    We need to take Three to court, this is totally unbelievable I am not even using the internet that much, but they will not tell me any figures, not to mentioned that no one has attempted to contact me to let me know that my connection was been throttled.
    They are so shameless is beyond belief!!!!! Avoid!!!

  31. dean said:

    Dean Piper
    DO NOT TAKE OUT THE ONE PLAN!!! I AM PERSONALLY ON THE ONE PLAN AND I AM BEING THROTTLED!!!! unlimited data yet they have introduced throttling as of 12 may 2012 for top 5% of users. pathetic, illegal, ive emailed ceo david dyson and am looking elsewhere PS 3UK-YOU CANT SELL ‘UNLIMITED WITH NO THROTTLING CONTRACTS AND THEN THROTTLE PEOPLE-ITS ILLEGAL!!! I am now looking for alternative contracts

  32. Justin said:

    Just sgined up to this and when it works its amazing. Having some very odd connectivity issues though where some days there is simply no data connection despite saying full strength signal and the hsdpa symbol is there. 3 don’t want to help or investigate so be cautious and don’t sign up to any long term deals until issues like this are solved. I was considering their 3 cube too which effectively removes the need for a phone line at home but alas I may have to think again.

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.