As a smartphone user, it’s essential to choose a good data plan. Find out how much data you need and how download speeds will affect your experience.

Nowadays, the most important component of your mobile phone tariff is the data plan that allows you to access the internet when you’re on-the-go.

Your data plan is used by almost every single app including e-mail, messaging, social networking and gaming applications. It’s also used when you’re browsing the internet and when you’re watching videos online.

When choosing a data plan, you’ll need to consider two main things:

  1. How much data you need each month: This determines how much content you’re able to access on your phone each month.
  2. The download speeds you need: This affects how quickly you can access your content (e.g. 4G speeds or 5G speeds, etc). It may also affect the types of content you can access.

Please select an article in order to find out more:

Mobile Data: How Many Gigabytes Do You Need & How Long Will It Last?

When choosing a new mobile phone price plan, you'll need to decide how much data you want. Find out how long each gigabyte (GB) of data will last you.

Download Speeds: Comparing 2G, 3G, 4G & 5G Mobile Networks

You can access the internet on your smartphone using either a 2G, 3G, 4G or 5G connection. Find out how download speeds compare.

Tethering: Which UK Mobile Networks Allow You To Tether?

Tethering or personal hotspot allows you to share your mobile data connection with other devices. Find out the tethering policy for each UK network.

Your Comments 16 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 16 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • If you get a mobile Sim from a comparison site are the speeds limited on that sim rather than if you went straight to the provider and got a sim from them directly.
    example: EE through a comparison site rather than EE is itself

    • Hi Colin,
      Thanks for your comment. No, there’s no difference in download speed when taking the same SIM card direct from a network, or through a comparison site. On EE, the key thing to watch out for is just whether you’re getting an EE Smart or EE Essential plan.
      Hope this helps,

  • This country (UK) has an abysmal record when it comes to regulating corporate megalomaniacs. Too much corruption and vested interests within the house of lords.

    Tragically, and possibly;y terminally for the future, we lost the fight for net neutrality. So these vile companies can run roughshod over the consumers and play as fast and lose as they like with the current near non existent rules.

    Ofcom is a joke outfit set up to placate the masses, the illusion of fairness is the name of the game, utterly shameful.

    Nothing will change. You looking at all this madness getting a whole lot worse.

  • Hi Ken, I’m on an old unlimited data O2 pay monthly tariff (not 4G).

    Recently I started getting messages from O2 about upgrading to a new tariff.
    Again recently I’ve started listening to BBC radio live streams while at work, it seems that this has caused O2 to throttle my tariff.
    This is the first time that I’ve experienced throttling in 10 years! and seems more than conincide take that this has taken place.
    Unhappy customer…

  • 3 has been terrible for ages now so I popped into my local shop and they suggested trying a new sim in my myfi box so I did, and for an hour I got speeds huge 4g speeds for an hour or so then suddenly I was cut down to a crawl again…. and this is from the company that promised it would be full throttle al the way …. No way will I be renewing my broadband with them…

  • Michael Dalgleish said:

    As a UK National, I usually buy local SIM when travelling in addition to my UK 3 SIM and a giffgaff SIM, both in a TP-LINK 4G MiFi Hotspot. I’ll make a point of comparing data throughputs on each and keep you posted with data. Maybe if other enthusiasts do the same we can build a picture. So far, prior to June 16, I’ve noticed in Italy that UK 3 is unusable for streaming, but OK for light web browsing and fine for email. Thanks again for your brilliant site, which keeps getting better!

  • Michael Dalgleish said:

    Now all UK Operators offer ‘within-plan’ free EU roaming, it would be good to see an article about the performance of UK sims abroad. Covering throttling, tethering and VPN type restrictions.

    • Hi Michael,
      Many thanks for your comment. I’ve started putting together a document here on the ‘Roam Like at Home’ service available when travelling in the EU. Unfortunately, it’s a little trickier to get information on throttling/VPN restrictions when roaming but this is a really good suggestion which I’ll keep in mind for the future.
      Thanks again!

  • Hi Ken, It would be good to see an update to this piece. I am on the 3 all you can eat pay as you go and have been monitoring my speeds regularly. I am not using P2P and my data usage can be a few gigabytes due to large game apps such as Need for Speed updating. However between certain times, usually between 4 or 5 pm to midnight my speeds are effectively unusable. Trying to load a webpage can take up to 2 minutes! I live in a town with a population of 24,000 and 1 mast however I don’t see this as being the issue as the moment midnight arrives the speeds jump up from 0.01 – 0.05 Mb/s to a more reasonable speed of 3Mb/s up to on occasion 18Mb/s. Due to the timing of this jump it is not a case of the network suddenly becoming less busy bang on midnight but rather a poorly mismanaged traffic management policy. This has only really been an issue in the last 4 or 5 months.

  • Three is now throttling all across the board in a free for all ‘data greed’ grab. I am also on the all in one 15, and beteen 3pm and midnight it is a joke. The big problem is, however, as all the mobile providers are effectively a cartel, alternatives are no where to be seen. Regulatory bodies are a joke who are wined and dined by the cartel and have very cozy jobs that they do not want to lose, so from time to time they make a small bit of noise and pretend to the job they are supposed to do, but in fact do nothing to reel in the cartels.

  • Three used to be a good network, but now speeds are up and down like a Yoyo, and it’s frustrating to use. I would only recommend them to people who do not use the internet much. Don’t be fooled into thinking it works alright at first, as once your on there norty list for using too much data you are the first to get throttled. I only use about 2.5 Gig a mouth so not a heavy user in my eyes.

  • IMHO, 3 is now AN AWFUL NETWORK (used to be the best), their TrafficSense system strangles my connection (PAYG All in one 15 all you can eat) at Exactly 3pm EVERY DAY to less than 0.5mb/s, then bang on midnight it goes back to normal (6 – 15mb/s). It doesn’t seem to matter how much data i use or whether i tether. I did have an ultimate internet 500 contract that never slowed down and i could see speeds of 15mb/s during peak hours on the same device I’m using now, but they kept accusing me of tethering (I wasn’t) and roaming (I wasn’t) which made the service unusable and I was forced to cancel. once my add on runs out I’m switching to another network, as 3 is a joke and has terrible coverage.

  • I am on the One Plan with three.

    It used to be brilliant tethering, but throttling is going on badly now.

    Skype no faster than 30kbs for file transfers, yet around 1.5meg upload speeds!

    Downloads off the iplayer are no faster than 300k too!!!

    I wish they would be honest, but they are a joke now!


  • Unfortunately Three is throttling their customer network for approximately a year calling “heavy users” those who “eat” 2 to 5 GB a month.
    And least comfort provides TrafficSense which “manages” traffic from noon till midnight and not as stated above.

    • Hi Ally,

      Thanks for sharing your experiences here. Have Three confirmed that they’re throttling heavy data users? As far as I’m aware, the throttling is on congested sites and for certain users who use P2P services. It’s also used for customers who download software updates over 3G. I’m happy to update this information if your experiences are shared by many other people.


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