Three offer “all you can eat” data and free tethering on The One Plan

January 2nd, 2011

Three have updated their flagship One Plan tariff by adding “all-you-can-eat” data and allowing customers to tether their phone to a computer.

Three have removed download limits for customers on their newly-refreshed flagship tariff “The One Plan”. Existing and new One Plan customers will no longer be subject to a 1GB monthly download limit and will now have “all-you-can-eat” data. Three are also allowing customers on the One Plan to “tether” their phones to other devices such as laptops, MP3 players and games consoles. Used in conjunction with the mobile wi-fi hotspot feature in Android 2.2 devices, you’ll be able to enable the rest of your electronic devices to access Three’s mobile broadband service too.

What is “The One Plan”?

“The One Plan” is a Pay Monthly tariff that offers 2000 cross-network minutes, 5000 3-to-3 minutes, 5000 texts and now “all-you-can-eat” data. The tariff is available from £25/month both as a traditional mobile phone contract (with an inclusive phone) or as a SIM-only contract (without an inclusive phone; airtime only). One Plan customers also have access to a free voicemail service and free Skype calls over the Three network.

When the One Plan originally launched in July 2010 we called it an “almost unlimited everything” tariff; the reason being that the generous allowances of minutes and texts on The One Plan is in line with (and sometimes better than) what other networks would describe as “unlimited”. For example, “unlimited texts” are subject to a fair usage allowance of around 3,000 texts on most networks and “unlimited internet” tariffs come with fair usage limits ranging between 200MB to 3GB.

With the launch of “all-you-can-eat” data, Three have removed the old 1GB download limit on The One Plan and removed restrictions on customers tethering their phones.

Does “all-you-can-eat” data have a fair usage limit or any restrictions?

According to Three, there is no fair usage limit for “all-you-can-eat” data.

How does this compare to the data allowances offered by other networks?

Across the networks, the standard data allowances offered on Pay Monthly tariffs are as follows:

Network Data Allowance
Three “All-you-can-eat” (no download limit) for The One Plan
1GB for Talk & Text tariffs
O2 Between 500MB and 1GB
Orange 750MB for Panther tariffs with “unlimited” internet
500MB for other Pay Monthly tariffs
T-Mobile 1GB for standard Pay Monthly tariffs (before February 2011)
3GB for Android smartphone tariffs (before February 2011)
500MB on all tariffs from February 2011
Vodafone 500MB

To find out what terms such as 500MB and 1GB correspond to in every-day use, see our detailed guide to download limits.

Can I use “all-you-can-eat” data when I’m abroad?

Nope. It’s only for use within the UK. Whilst abroad, you’ll still have to pay Three’s standard roaming rates:

  • £1.25/MB within the EU
  • £3/MB in Australia, Cyprus North, Israel, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, Turkey, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (USA) and USA, Hong Kong and South Africa
  • £10/MB in India, Thailand, Canada, Croatia, Kenya, Malaysia and Oman
  • £6/MB for the rest of the world

To avoid large roaming charges on holiday, you should follow our best practice guide for using your phone abroad and disable data roaming.

What is tethering?

Tethering means connecting your mobile phone to a PC or laptop and using it as a modem to access a 3G mobile broadband service. Tethering allows you to access the internet from your computer on the go wherever you have a 3G signal – and even when you are out of range of a wi-fi hotspot. You’ll need a phone which supports tethering such as the Apple iPhone 4 (free at £35/month), the Apple iPhone 4S (£199 and £35/month) or the Samsung Galaxy S II (£35/month).

The “mobile wi-fi hotspot” (MiFi) feature in these phones will allow your phone to create a personal wi-fi hotspot over which it shares your 3G data connection. This means you’ll be able to connect your other devices such as MP3 players, e-book readers and games consoles to the internet using the One Plan.

The One Plan is the only mobile phone tariff in the UK that currently includes free tethering. Most networks will charge extra (for example Vodafone charge £5 for every 500MB you download whilst tethering).

Where does it say I am allowed to tether?

This is confirmed on the Three blog about half way through the article by Marc Allera:

“And yes, if you want to use your phone as a dongle (also known as tethering) then you absolutely can.”

What deals are available?

The full list of deals can be seen on the Three website when you select “The One Plan”. Key deals include:


Why does the Three website still mention a 1GB download limit on “The One Plan”?

At the time of writing, Three haven’t yet removed references to a 1GB download limit from their website. However, several pages on the Three website and the Three Blog all confirm that the download limit has been removed and that tethering is now allowed on The One Plan.

Can existing Three customers switch to “The One Plan”?

Yes. Existing customers can upgrade to “The One Plan” at any time even if you’re in the middle of your existing contract. Call Three Customer Services (333 from your Three mobile) for more information. You’ll need to call at least 24 hours before your billing date to change tariff in time for the next billing cycle. Otherwise you’ll have to wait until the start of the next billing cycle.

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 this to Three and they’ll handle the transfer of your phone number. It takes up to 2 days to transfer a phone number. Our PAC Code Finder tool will take you through the entire process of switching networks step-by-step.

Where can I get The One Plan?

The One Plan is available as a SIM-only contract or standard Pay Monthly contract through the Three website. Some pages on the Three website will still make reference to a 1GB download limit even though this no longer applies for The One Plan.

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

  1. david sutto said:

    The no download limit is not true..! I Hit 96.8gb in my first month and have now had my internet suspended between the hours of 3pm-Midnight, and it does say upto 1000Gb a month which i was nowhere near..! This is because 3 have over sold the plan.

  2. Chris said:

    hi…I'm on the one plan since two months now. I wonder why i got msg from '3" today:

    From 3: You've nearly used your internet allowance.
    Check your remaining allowance for free at my3"

    is anyone knows why?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Chris,

      If you are on "The One Plan", I believe you are receiving this message in error. You could try tweeting @ThreeUKSupport or calling them on 333 and asking them to check your plan & why you've been sent this message.


    2. Daniel replied:

      happens to me all the time, but i dont get charged 🙂

  3. Daniel said:

    The FUP is 450GB for all there all you can eat plans

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for your comment! Any source of info on your claim of the 450GB fair usage policy?

      Many thanks,


      1. Daniel replied:

        Hi ken

        Customer Services told me. It was the technical depertment if i recall.

  4. Abdul salam said:

    I think threes one plan is so far the best plan in uk mobile networks.

  5. sara said:

    DON'T USE THE ONE PLAN! i can confirm they throttle- ridiculously, after you've downloaded a certain amount which they don't tell you.
    they dropped my download speed to 3kb/s !!! when i do a speed test it says i should have 1.6mb/s which is roughly what i had before i downloaded a few things and it must've throttled me. now i'm stuck paying £30 a month for 2 years with a download speed that (i worked out) will take me TWO HOURS AND 5 MINUITES to download one song!

  6. Neil H said:

    I just upgraded to the one plan and had a special price of £28 and my first bill was £35 and that included my last months bill on the old taraff, but i now get a new bill outside of my new plan and have not used any of my allowance. Its about 54 p at present and is rising daily, where is that coming from?

  7. Neil said:

    I can confirm that Three are restricting the One Plan tethering. I have been on the £15 all you can eat from Three and although I was not supposed to tether, I was able to watch BBC iplayer and Youtube without ant restrictions in speed. On that basis I have taken out a One Plan rolling monthly contract and now all downloading seems to buffer. I thought it could have been a faulty Sim card so Three have sent me another but that also causes bad buffering whilst tethering. I have tried a Giffgsff sim in the same phone and it works fine.
    I think I will give my 30 notice and go back to Three PAYG.

  8. mobs said:

    I have just double checked on the Three blog as I am looking to switch to them. This is a fantastic tariff. The inclusion of tethering alone is enough to seal the deal with me.

  9. Tompop said:

    Yeah I can confirm this. Use lots of data, downloading games and music, streaming iPlayer etc and no change to my billing. As to what you were saying about the recption Kalidas, I have problems in certain places, such as my girlfriends and at work, but nowhere else. I think that is the one major downer on 3.

  10. Kalidas said:

    I'm on the one plan since two months now. I haven't seen any throttling or blocking. I've probably used many gigs of data in this cycle -and I am nowhere close to the end of my current billing cycle. As of now, Three says I "haven't used any data outside of my allowance". The One Plan is indeed all-you-can-eat. But speeds are low. For example – youtube gets buffered. It's not broadband afterall. It's great for people on the move but not too good for connecting to office network for starting remote desktop. It's great for connecting to office or other network for email though.

    Having said that, this offering from three should be viewed in light of the nework quality that three has, which is far worse as compared to Vodafone or O2. So, yes, we get unlimited data but we get poor network. I live in Zone 2 (London) and there are just two "zones" in my house from where I can either have a conversation on phone or browse the network. Three nework is so bad that it affects your mobility (or there's something seriously wrong with my iPhone4). I recommend prospective customers go for a three pay-as-you-go first, evaluate, and then decide if 3 deals are worth it.

  11. Alex said:

    I can confirm that Three is blocking sites which can be classified (by Three internal decisions) as Adult or Illegal sites. As a result, they three blocks a number of non-porn sites which include Dating sites and sites which protect your privacy by making your surfing anonymous (proxies, cookie removal, Java Script disabling, hacks detection, etc.) as well.
    Not good enough for me

    1. sara replied:

      ring the customer service (333) free and ask them to remove the restrictions or whatever you call it. they do it straight away and the page stops coming up the next day for everything. all phone companies have to let you, it's only there incase an under 18 buys the phone.

      1. Adam replied:

        Do you know whether iplayer can be watched on on lap top via internet tethering

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Adam,

          As far as I am aware, there should be no issues with using iPlayer whilst tethering on The One Plan.


  12. Lee said:

    I think I can safely say Three do not throttle, as a rule. I ran out of my old 1GB 'limit' a gig ago, and am still getting 4mbit/s today. Oh, and to get around the site blocking use the '3internet' APN rather than '' 🙂

  13. Ken Lo
    Ken said:

    Hi andy,

    Thanks for the comment. I've been told by Three that they do not throttle One Plan customers. Can anyone else comment on whether they've had throttling?


  14. maxmakeblog said:

    Very interesting article! I was very sceptical to hear "all-you-can-eat-data" and not be able to find any info about a fair use policy but this has set my mind at rest.

    If only I got signal from three in my darn house…

    1. sara replied:

      try buying a 3g signal booster, they can extend it by 500+ metres

  15. andyroo said:

    unfortunately, a lot of users (including myself) have found that this "all you can much" data is indeed throttled.

    on my3 which is the online portal where you can track your usage, an allowance is still there (mines 3gb). this differs depending on what price plan you were on previously and what add on three have put on your account to get rid of the titty filter.

    new billing cycle and it all gets reset, speeds upward on 5mbps. use the data and it all dwindles down to zero. Imagine your surprise when your speed also dwindles to practically nothing.

    three are adamant that this service is not throttled and i may be suffering network congestion blah blah blah. Problem is, other phones (1 iPhone 4, HTC Desire) in my household on their 500mb limited price plans are unaffected, still dancing along at 4mbps+

    three need to tell us what the throttling policy is (doesn't really take a genius anyway), rather than stand behind the "its not throttled", as a user i can tell you it is.

  16. James said:

    @cam the three adult filter can be removed for free by calling customer services. They will add x-series to your account with a 2gb download allowance for £5 this sounds strange but free re-credit the £5 a month on your bill so it cancels itself out. Also although it says a 2gb limit this can also be disregarded as you do have unlimited data. The reason they do it like this at the moment is because their systems haven't been updated yet and it'd the only "workaround" they have. But the end result is unrestricted unlimited data with no filters. I know. I have it!

  17. Cam said:

    Hey Ken,

    I can also confirm that the Three 'The One Plan' is in fact going exactly what it says on the tin, all you can use download data that can be used while tethering to a laptop or console, as I have been a user of the plan for about a month now and my billing information confirms this.Finally a plan worth using!!!

    However, as the internet is being provided through a mobile device and not a designated modem, Three has blocked websites that it does not approve of. Three confirmed that it does indeed block adult content on mobile device Sims as it says that it is an added security measure to protect children from unsuitable content that would otherwise be available without the option of parental control software.This is fine except if you want to access this kind of material you have to use the sites approved by Three. Strange that once you have confirmed that you are over 18 years and a master of your own destiny you still have to use their choice in adult content and the block of the internet remains in place.

    Although this issue might annoy some users, I have found that other, non adult content, sites are also blocked. When searching Google for proxy servers, all sites where blocked. Some sites that described the ways of protecting user ip addresses for privacy were not available.

    When i went into my local Three store the sales attendant was as surprised as i was about the blocking of non adult content sites. We checked and their dongle internet service is not blocked in anyway. When i contacted Three tech support, i was told that the settings I was requesting to change the access for my internet from the mobile internet to the dongle internet was not allowed to be released to customers.

    I just thought that this information should accompany the post. The price plan is without doubt the best there is and is hassle free. But the fact must be made that if you have only a phone to access the internet as i do now , you have to live with a censored internet. And i don't live in China!!

    I was wondering what your views on this are and/or if you could confirm if this is in fact the case. This information is what i have managed to piece together from from several sources. Any info/comment would be cool

  18. cosmos said:

    Thanks for the info Ken! Much appreciated! 🙂

  19. cosmos said:

    Hi Ken, I am currently a T-Mobile customer but due their announcement of downgrading the "unlimited" data to only 500mb I am interesting in moving to 3 and "the One Plan". I am due an upgrade now, but plan on cancelling my T-Mobile contract, getting a new Android phone with WIFI hotspot capabilities on the 3 One Plan, and possibly getting a WIFI Tablet which I would tether from my phone. My concern is that in the small print about the One Plan is the following line: "You can't use your internet allowance to use your phone as a modem". Do you think this contradicts the blog post or is referring to something else? What do you think? :O

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Cosmos,

      Thanks for your comment. So it looks like Three haven't got round to fully updating their site with details of all-you-can-eat (one wonders why it's taking them so long). However, you could take this page from the Three website as proof that tethering is now allowed.

      “And yes, if you want to use your phone as a dongle (also known as tethering) then you absolutely can.”

      Also have a read through the comments as lots of people ask about tethering there… if you like drop them a comment there and Sedge/Kaz/Johanna from Three could confirm it for you.

      Also there is the Three FAQs here.

      Hope this helps


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