In the UK, only some mobile networks allow you to tether or use personal hotspot. Find out the tethering policy for each UK network.
Tethering 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 whilst you’re 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 the Apple iPhone and Android-powered smartphones. However, there is a limitation in that only certain mobile networks will allow you to tether in their terms and conditions. For this reason, it’s important to find out the tethering policy for your mobile network before choosing a new tariff and using the personal hotspot feature.
In this article, we’ll compare the tethering policy on different UK mobile networks. We’ll also highlight some of the best value deals currently available with tethering support.
Overview of Tethering Policies By Network
The following table shows an overview of which mobile networks and tariffs you’re able to tether on. For further information, please select your mobile network for more details about their tethering policy.
|Mobile Network||Pay Monthly Tethering||Pay As You Go Tethering|
|EE||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|O2||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|Tesco Mobile||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|Three||✔ Yes (on Advanced plans only)||✔ Yes|
|ASDA Mobile||–||✔ Yes|
|BT Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|FreedomPop||–||✔ Only with £3.99/month add-on|
|iD Mobile||✘ No||✘ No|
|Lebara Mobile||–||✔ Yes|
|Plusnet Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|Sky Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|Talkmobile||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|TalkTalk Mobile||✔ Yes||–|
|The Phone Co-Op||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
|TPO Mobile||✘ No||✘ No|
|Vectone Mobile||–||✘ No|
|Virgin Mobile||✔ Yes||✔ Yes|
Cheapest Deals For Tethering
Pay As You Go
If you’re looking to tether on Pay As You Go, there are nine mobile networks from which you’re able to choose from. They are 1pMobile, ASDA Mobile, EE, giffgaff, Lebara Mobile, O2, Tesco Mobile and The Phone Co-Op.
Currently, giffgaff is our recommended network for tethering on Pay As You Go. On giffgaff, a £10 top-up will give you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of data (increased automatically to 4GB once you’ve been on the tariff for 3 months). You’ll get 99% population coverage from O2, including both 3G and 4G, and there’s no need to undergo a credit check.
The following table gives a quick summary of some of the bundles available for tethering on Pay As You Go:
With 2GB of Internet
If you’re looking to tether from your smartphone, we’d typically recommend choosing a tariff with at least 2GB of data per month as a minimum. This will allow you to tether occasionally (e.g. a couple of times per month for when a wi-fi network isn’t available).
The following table gives an quick overview of available deals with at least 2GB of tetherable data each month:
Please remember: the data allowance listed will need to cover your normal smartphone data usage as well as any data use through tethering or personal hotspot.
With 4GB of Internet
If you’re likely to tether regularly on your smartphone (e.g. a couple of times per 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:
With 8GB of Internet
If you’re likely to tether almost every day (e.g. on your commute into 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:
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.
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 on EE:
The following goodybags will allow you to tether on giffgaff from £7.50/month:
Prior to August 2017, the £20 goodybag with Always-On data would only allow you to tether on the first 6GB per month. This restriction no longer applies to new £20 goodybags, although data speeds are reduced to 384kbps once you reach 9GB per month.
On O2, tethering has been a standard feature of both Pay Monthly contracts and Pay As You Go tariffs since March 2011 (the rules may differ if you took out your contract before this).
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on O2:
If you’re a customer of O2 Pay As You Go with an older iPhone, it might be necessary for you to install a software update to enable the tethering feature. We’d strongly recommend buying a Big Bundle if you’d like to tether on Pay As You Go (as tethering on Classic Pay As You Go will very quickly deplete your balance).
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:
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Tesco Mobile:
Source: Tesco Mobile Help: Using your phone or tablet as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Three allows you to tether on most of their plans, with the exception of Essential Pay Monthly contracts. Providing you have an Advanced Pay Monthly contract or Three Pay As You Go, you can tether using your normal allowance in the UK and Europe.
For customers with an all-you-can-eat data allowance, a separate 30GB allowance applies for tethering and personal hotspot (lower on some all-you-can-eat data plans taken out before April 2016).
The following ‘Advanced’ SIM-only deals allow you to tether on Three:
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tether on Three’s Essential price plans. Restrictions also apply on tethering if you’re travelling to a Feel At Home country outside of Europe. For more information, see the Three help article on tethering from your smartphone.
Prior to April 2018, tethering wasn’t possible on Three Pay As You Go.
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:
On Vodafone Pay As You Go, it should also normally be possible to tether. However, a number of readers have fed back in the comments and elsewhere online that they’ve experienced problems doing so. For this reason, we’ve listed this as “TBC” in the summary table above.
Other Mobile Networks
If you’re a regular user of tethering or personal hotspot on 1pMobile, buying a Data Boost would probably be our recommended option. This is because the data charges for tethering can very quickly add up at the normal 1p/MB rate.
ASDA Mobile allows tethering and portable hotspot on all of their Pay As You Go bundles. They’re one of the better value mobile networks for tethering on Pay As You Go as you can get 2GB of tetherable data for just £10/month. ASDA provides coverage on EE, including both 3G and 4G internet.
The following Pay As You Go bundles on ASDA Mobile are suitable for tethering:
BT Mobile has allowed tethering for all customers of their mobile network since June 2016. This includes customers with a Pay Monthly contract, with the Family SIM offer or with a normal 12-month SIM-only contract.
The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on BT Mobile from £7.50/month:
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:
For more information, see the thread on BT’s Community Forums.
On FreedomPop, tethering is not permitted unless you buy the £3.99/month FreedomPop Premium add-on. Realistically, you’ll also need to be on a paid-for data plan as the basic FreedomPop service includes only 200MB of data per month. For more information, please see our in-depth FreedomPop review.
This is also confirmed on the iD Mobile frequently asked questions page:
Previously, the use of tethering was explicitly prevented in the Lebara Mobile terms and conditions, but this clause has now been removed from the contract.
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’):
On Plusnet Mobile (previously known as LIFE Mobile until 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:
If you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer, you can benefit from double data through the Plusnet Mates Rates offer.
On Sky Mobile, it’s possible to tether on all tariffs at no extra charge. A unique feature of the network is you can 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 £5/month:
If you’re a Sky TV customer, you’ll receive unlimited calls and unlimited texts as part of your tariff.
The following 30-day plans from Smarty will allow you to tether from £7.50/month:
As of April 2017, the Talkmobile brand is being gradually phased out. The mobile network is no longer available to new customers.
You can tether on all current tariffs from the legacy TalkTalk Mobile service. There’s a FAQ page on TalkTalk’s website explaining how to tether on their network. Please note that TalkTalk Mobile is in the midst of being closed down, as of January 2018.
In 2015, TalkTalk Mobile offered an All-in SIM card where tethering was prohibited. The All-in SIM card is no longer available to new TalkTalk Mobile customers.
The Phone Co-Op
On The Phone Co-Op, it’s possible to tether on both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go plans. This was confirmed by an Internet & Data FAQs page on their old website (the page has since been removed during a website redesign):
You can use the following Pay As You Go bundles to tether on The Phone Co-Op:
Source: The Phone Co-Op: Internet & Data FAQs
As of April 2018, Virgin Mobile has removed the restrictions on tethering previously found in their terms and conditions. The following SIM-only deals from Virgin Mobile will allow you to tether:
Prior to April 2018, it wasn’t possible to tether on Virgin Mobile contracts taken out after the 24th January 2013. This was stated in the old terms and conditions for the Virgin Mobile service:
If your contract was originally taken out before the 24th January 2013, you should check as the specific terms and conditions may differ for your tariff.
VOXI by Vodafone
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.