Three’s “SIM Only Internet” provides 2GB internet for £5.11/month, discounted calls

September 24th, 2011

Three are currently offering a “SIM Only Internet” tariff. You’ll get 2GB internet to use each month plus lower calling rates compared to Pay As You Go.

If you’re a heavy smartphone/data user, Three’s “SIM Only Internet” tariff gives a great way to get connected. For £5.11/month, you’ll get 2GB of internet to use each month – about four times the industry standard of 500MB/month. Calling rates are also discounted by 22% compared to Three’s Pay As You Go tariff making it a great alternative for smartphone users who currently use Three’s Pay As You Go service. “SIM Only Internet” is a one-month rolling SIM Only tariff.

How much do calls and texts cost on “SIM Only Internet”?

Unfortunately the “SIM Only Internet” doesn’t include any calls or texts: you’ll have to pay extra for every call you make and every text you send. Calls cost 20.4p/minute and text messages cost 10.2p each. These costs can quickly add up if you make a lot of calls (a 10 minute phone call will cost £2.04) but they’re lower than the costs on most mainstream networks. There are networks out there with lower calling and texting rates (e.g. ASDA Mobile and Giffgaff) but neither network offers internet at the £5/month price range.

For smartphone users currently on Pay As You Go, “SIM Only Internet” could provide some significant savings.

The cost of calling and texting on “SIM Only Internet” compares to major Pay As You Go services as follows:

Network Calls Texts Internet Voicemail
ASDA Mobile 10p/min 6p 50p/MB 10p/minute
Giffgaff 10p/min 6p 20p/day for 20MB then 20p/MB 8p/call
O2 25p/min* 12p £1/day (500MB free with £10 top-up) 15p/call
Orange 25p/min 12p £2/day (100MB free with £10 top-up) 25p/minute
Three – SIM Only Internet 20.2p/min 10p 2GB included for £5.11/month, then 30.6p/MB Included
Three – Pay As You Go 26p/min 11p 11p/MB (150MB free with £10 top-up) 16p/minute
T-Mobile 20p/min 12p £1/day 12p/minute
Vodafone 25p/min 12p £1/25MB/day (500MB free with £10 top-up) 25p/minute

* On O2 Pay As You Go, the cost of calls to landlines and other O2 mobiles drops to 5p/minute after the first 3 minutes.

This tariff probably isn’t suitable for people who make a lot of phone calls and text messages: instead you should opt for a more fully-featured smartphone SIM-only tariff. Instead, “SIM Only Internet” is ideal for heavy data users who typically use less than 25 minutes or 50 texts each month.

What does 2GB actually correspond to in reality?

2GB approximately corresponds to viewing 6000 rich webpages, downloading 400 songs, streaming 4 hours of video or listening to 32 hours of online radio. See our in-depth guide to mobile download allowances and what they correspond to in reality. The industry standard data offering is 500MB/month (0.5GB/month).

Can I tether on “SIM Only Internet”?

No. Three do not permit tethering on “SIM Only Internet”. If you’re looking to tether on Three, you’ll need to look at The One Plan (starts from £25/month).

Can I use “SIM Only Internet” in a mobile broadband dongle?

No. “SIM Only Internet” is designed for use within smartphones. If you’re using a mobile broadband dongle, you’ll need a mobile broadband tariff instead.

What are the alternatives?

If you’re looking for a data-only tariff, “SIM Only Internet” provides the largest data allowance at the £5/month price point. For a cheaper alternative, T-Mobile offers 500MB internet for £3.33/month but you’ll need to pay for 6 months upfront. T-Mobile’s package also restricts your access to their standard 3G network (up to 0.4Mbps download) whereas Three’s “SIM Only Internet” allows you to access their full HSDPA network (up to 7.2Mbps).

If you’re looking for some inclusive calls and texts, please see our complete guide to smartphone SIM-only tariffs. For £10/month, Three offer 300 minutes, 3000 texts and 1GB internet on a 12-month contract. If you make more than 25 minutes of phone calls or send more than 50 texts each month, you’ll find the £10/month tariff should offer better value.

What is Three coverage like where I live?

A coverage checker is available on the Three website.

I’m switching to Three. Can I keep my existing phone number?

Yes. You’ll need to ask your existing mobile network for a PAC Code. Provide your PAC Code to Three and they’ll handle the transfer of your phone number. It should take no more than 24 hours to transfer a phone number. Our PAC Code Finder tool will walk you through the entire process of moving networks step-by-step.

Where can I get this deal?

The SIM Only Internet tariff is available from the Three website.

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

  1. Sue de Nym said:

    I found this deal months ago, but 3 had no knowledge of it when I rang. It’s not on their main website, so I wonder if there is a way of accessing it. I know the last time I found it was via another route.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Sue,

      I believe that Three have now removed this deal – though it might be worth giving them a call to see whether it's still available.


  2. Maz said:

    So can I chop the sim and use in my ipad2?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Maz,

      I believe that "SIM Only Internet" is designed for use within a smartphone and the T&C prohibit use within a tablet.

      Hope this helps,


      1. Maz replied:

        Thanks for this Ken. But i assume it would actually work, it would just be against Three's T&C's?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Maz,

          Most mobile devices such as phones, tablets and dongles use the exact same technology – you enter some Access Point Network (APN) settings and then it is able to connect to the network.

          So technically I can see no reason why "SIM Only Internet" wouldn't work inside an iPad – just double check the T&C before doing it in case you are in breach!

          Hope this helps,


          1. Maz replied:

            Thanks Ken, much appreciated.

  3. Thomas Brooks said:

    I have a laptop with a sim card slot. Can I use this sim in my laptop?

    How can they tell if I am using it in my laptop as opposed to a phone?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Thomas,

      I'm sure it's technically possible to use the SIM Card in your laptop – all SIM cards follow a common standard and all SIM card slots should be compatible with all SIM cards. Three's terms and conditions expressedly prevent you from tethering your phone to a computer and that is essentially the same in practice as using your SIM card directly in a laptop. As to how they could find out, I'm pretty sure it's fairly obvious from the pattern of traffic. I would recommend calling Three and asking them to clarify their policy before purchasing this tariff for your laptop as they could give you an official answer.


  4. Iain said:

    Can you use a 'Sim Only' deal (like the 3 offer) with a mifi unit? 1GB of internet + Skype for a month for £5 would be great!


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Iain,

      Unfortunately not. The "SIM Only" deals are designed for handset browsing only. For the MiFi, you'll need a special tariff which allows you to use it on your computer and with your other devices. The included Skype is only with the "Skype on 3" application which is available from Planet3.


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