Tethering or personal hotspot allows you to share your mobile data connection with other devices. 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 can be used as a convenient way to get your laptop, tablet or any other wi-fi enabled device connected to the internet through a mobile broadband connection. This is particularly useful whilst you’re on-the-go but it can also be used to get connected to the internet without a phone line at home.

In this article, we’ll explain how you can use the tethering or personal hotspot functionality on your device. We’ll also look at the best value SIM cards for tethering and personal hotspot and at how individual mobile networks treat the use of this feature.

How to Use Tethering & Personal Hotspot

You can use tethering or personal hotspot on your smartphone as follows:

  • iPhone: Go to Settings > Personal Hotspot and tap the slider to switch it on. You can set a Wi-Fi password for your hotspot here. See the Apple website for more information.
  • Android: Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Hotspot & tethering. Tap the Wi-Fi Hotspot feature to switch it on. You can also set your network name and password here. See the Google website for more information.

Most people will choose to tether by creating a personal wi-fi hotspot. However, it’s also possible to tether using Bluetooth or using a USB cable in some cases.

If you find yourself using tethering or personal hotspot regularly when at home, consider getting a 4G-based home broadband service instead. On some of these services, you can get unlimited data for as little as £22/month. You’ll also get better network performance compared to tethering with a stronger wi-fi signal and the ability to add things such as an external 4G antenna.

Overview of Policies By Network

The following table shows a summary of which mobile networks and tariffs you’re able to tether on. For further information, please select your mobile network for full details about their tethering policy.

Mobile Network Is Tethering Permitted?
EE Yes
giffgaff Yes
O2 Yes
Tesco Mobile Yes
Three Yes
Vodafone Yes
1pMobile Yes
ASDA Mobile Yes
BT Mobile Yes
FreedomPop Only with £3.99/month add-on
iD Mobile Yes
Lebara Mobile Yes
Lycamobile No
Plusnet Mobile Yes
Sky Mobile Yes
Smarty Yes
Talkmobile Yes
TalkTalk Mobile Yes
The Phone Co-Op Yes
Vectone Mobile Yes (up to 10GB per month)
Virgin Mobile Yes

Cheapest Deals For Tethering

Pay As You Go

Top Up LogoIf you’re looking to tether on Pay As You Go, there are a number of different mobile networks you can choose from.

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 a customer 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.

Order giffgaff SIM Card (Free) →

The following table gives a quick summary of some of the bundles available for tethering on Pay As You Go:

ASDA Mobile600Unlimited4GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0003GB£10.00

With 2GB of Data

iOS8 TetheringIf 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 currently available deals with at least 2GB of tetherable data each month:

Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited2.5GB£7.00
1 month
1 month
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£7.50
12 months
12 months
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£8.00
1 month
1 month
18 months
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£12.00
12 months
12 months
To show you the most relevant price plans, 2 similar plans have been hidden. .

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 Data

MacBook Pro
With tethering or personal hotspot, your laptop can get access to the internet wherever you are.

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:

Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited5.5GB£9.50
12 months
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£9.50
1 month
1 month
12 months
1 month
24 months
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
12 months
Tesco Mobile5005,0004GB£10.00
12 months
12 months
12 months
18 months
1 month
1 month
To show you the most relevant price plans, 7 similar plans have been hidden. .

With 8GB of Data

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:

12 months
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£10.00
12 months
Virgin Mobile5,000Unlimited10GB£10.00
12 months
1 month
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£10.00
1 month
1 month
Tesco Mobile5,0005,0008GB£12.50
12 months
1 month
12 months

For larger monthly data allowances, see our in-depth guide to SIM-only deals in the UK. Alternatively, read on to see a list of the deals available on each network.

In Depth: Tethering Policies By Network

In the following section, we’ll discuss the tethering policies on each UK mobile network in more detail.

Popular Networks


You can tether on all types of price plan from EE as 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:


Source: EE Help Article: Tethering your device
Tariff Information: EE Website


You can tether on giffgaff’s Pay As You Go service or when using any of their goodybags. This is explained in more detail within giffgaff’s tethering policy:

Tethering is allowed on all our goodybags and airtime credit (PAYG).
If you tether with a goodybag using your data allowance, your Internet data allowance is shared between all connected devices. If you use up your data allowance before the goodybag expires, we will send a notification to your device to let you know. You will then be charged at 5p per MB from airtime credit balance (PAYG) for the remaining life of your goodybag, but once your goodybag expires standard rates for mobile data will apply.

The following giffgaff goodybags will allow you to tether from £8/month:

£6 Goodybag300500500MB£6.00
£8 Goodybag500Unlimited2GB£8.00
£10 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£10.00
£12 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£12.00
£15 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£15.00
£20 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimited40GB£20.00
£25 GoodybagUnlimitedUnlimitedAlways-On£25.00

Prior to August 2017, the £20 goodybag didn’t allow you to tether once you’ve used 6GB of data per month. This restriction no longer applies to new goodybags, though data speeds on the Always-On goodybag are now reduced to 384kbps once you reach 20GB per month.

Source: giffgaff Support: Tethering Policy
Tariff Information: giffgaff Website


On O2, tethering and personal hotspot 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 functionality. We’d strongly recommend buying a Big Bundle if you’d like to tether on Pay As You Go (tethering on Classic Pay As You Go will very quickly deplete your balance).

Source: O2 Help & Support: Personal Hotspot
Tariff Information: O2 Website

Tesco Mobile

On Tesco Mobile, you can tether at no extra cost on all price plans with inclusive data. This includes both Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go tariffs.

From the Tesco Mobile help pages:

If your tariff has a data allowance included, you can use your device as a personal hotspot at no extra cost. If you don’t have a data allowance, or you go over your data allowance, you’ll be charged our standard rates.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Tesco Mobile:

Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£7.50
Tesco Mobile5005,0004GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,0008GB£12.50
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00015GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00020GB£17.50
Tesco Mobile5,0005,00025GB£20.00

Source: Tesco Mobile Help: Using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot
Tariff Information: Tesco Mobile Website


Three now allows you to tether on all of their price plans. This is possible when you’re inside the UK or travelling within Europe. If you’re travelling to a Go Roam Around The World country such as the USA or Australia, tethering isn’t permitted unless you first buy a Data Passport add-on.

The following SIM-only deals allow you to tether on Three:


Prior to October 2018, Three had a number of different restrictions on tethering and personal hotspot. For instance, Essential Pay Monthly contracts that were sold between July 2016 and September 2018 didn’t allow the use of tethering. Advanced Pay Monthly SIM cards with 100GB or all-you-can-eat data also had a separate 30GB monthly allowance for tethering. All of these restrictions have now been removed as a result of Ofcom’s net neutrality investigation in 2018. Prior to April 2018, tethering also wasn’t possible on Three Pay As You Go.

As of 2019, restrictions on tethering now only apply when you’re travelling in a Go Roam country outside of Europe.

Source: Three FAQ: Personal Hotspot on your phone
Tariff Information: Three Website


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 normally be possible to tether. However, a number of readers have fed back in the comments and elsewhere online that they sometimes experience problems doing so.

Source: Vodafone Website
Tariff Information: Vodafone Website

Other Mobile Networks


Tethering is permitted on 1pMobile, either on the normal 1p/MB rate or on a 30-day Data Boost bundle.

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.

Source: 1pMobile: Data & Internet FAQs
Tariff Information: 1pMobile Website

ASDA Mobile

ASDA Mobile allows tethering and portable hotspot on all of their Pay As You Go bundles. You can also tether at their standard Pay As You Go rate of 5p/MB but the charges are likely to add up quickly if you do this. ASDA provides coverage from EE, including both 3G and 4G internet.

The following Pay As You Go bundles from ASDA Mobile are suitable for tethering:

ASDA Mobile200Unlimited500MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited2GB£7.00
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited4GB£10.00
ASDA Mobile800Unlimited5GB£12.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited8GB£15.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£20.00
ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£25.00

Source: ASDA Mobile: Frequently Asked Questions
Tariff Information: ASDA Mobile Website

BT Mobile

BT Mobile has allowed the use of tethering and personal hotspot for all customers of their mobile network since June 2016. This includes customers with a Pay Monthly contract, with a Family SIM package or with a normal SIM-only contract.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on BT Mobile:

BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£12.00
inc. £5 discount
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£15.00
inc. £5 discount
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited25GB£25.00
inc. £5 discount
BT MobileUnlimitedUnlimited60GB£35.00
inc. £5 discount

The prices shown in the table above include a 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:

Prohibited use
25. You must not allow our service to be used:

b. to create your own personal hotspot which provides internet access to other devices which may be used by yourself or others (this is sometimes known as ‘tethering’); or

For more information, see the thread on BT’s Community Forums.

Source: BT Mobile
Tariff Information: BT Mobile Website


On FreedomPop, tethering is not permitted unless you buy the FreedomPop Premium add-on. This has a monthly cost of £3.99, with a free trial available for the first month. Tethering is only supported on Android devices at present.

Source: FreedomPop Website
Tariff Information: FreedomPop Website

iD Mobile

As of 2019, tethering is now permitted for customers on iD Mobile. This is stated on the iD Mobile frequently asked questions page:

Can I tether on iD Mobile?
You can tether on iD Mobile, but please be warned – it can use up a lot of data very quickly and can work out to be very costly if you don’t take the right precautions (see the below FAQ for more details).

Prior to 2019, tethering was not permitted for customers on iD Mobile. iD’s terms and conditions are still yet to be updated to reflect this change in policy. Clause 5.3.4 of the iD Mobile terms and conditions still contains the following restriction on tethering:

5.3 You must not use the Services, the SIM Card or an iD phone number or allow anyone else to use the Services, the SIM or an iD phone number for illegal or improper uses, including but not limited to:

5.3.4 tethering (unless explicitly stated in your Agreement with us), downloading, sending or uploading content of an excessive size, quantity or frequency. We will contact you if your use is excessive;

Any such use shall give us the right to charge you any Charges due and terminate the Services immediately.

Source: iD Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: iD Mobile Website

Lebara Mobile

Lebara Mobile allows the use of tethering on their network, but typically advises customers against doing so. According to an FAQ posted on their website in January 2017:

Tethering is something that we don’t advise since our data plans are design to be use with our sim cards not to be shared. You can share data if your device lets you, but if you have connection issues or other issues related to the tethering, we won’t be able to assist you.

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.

Source: Lebara Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Lebara Mobile Website


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’):

The offer is for non-commercial, private, personal use only – Lycamobile reserves the right to withdraw or suspend the offer or to disconnect you if we suspect that offer is being used for commercial purposes, for conferencing, or if it is not being used in a handset (in a SIM box for example), if it is being used for tethering or if any reason Lycamobile reasonably suspects that you are not acting in accordance with this policy where we consider that the usage was illegitimate.

Source: Lycamobile Bundles Page
Tariff Information: Lycamobile Website

Plusnet Mobile

On Plusnet Mobile, it’s possible to tether on all SIM-only plans.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Plusnet Mobile:

Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited2.5GB£7.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£8.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited5.5GB£9.50
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited5GB£9.50
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited8GB£10.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited4GB£10.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited7.5GB£11.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited7GB£11.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited12GB£15.00
Plusnet MobileUnlimitedUnlimited11GB£15.00

If you’re a Plusnet home broadband customer, you can benefit from double data through the Plusnet Mates Rates offer.

Source: Plusnet Mobile: Tariff FAQs
Tariff Information: Plusnet Mobile Website

Sky Mobile

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, which can be useful if you only want to tether very occasionally.

The following SIM-only deals will allow you to tether on Sky Mobile:

Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited1GB£6.00
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited10GB£10.00
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited3GB£12.00
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited15GB£18.00
Sky MobileUnlimitedUnlimited50GB£40.00

Source: Sky Mobile website
Tariff Information: Sky Mobile website


Customers of SMARTY are able to tether or use personal hotspot at no extra charge. The only limitation to this is SMARTY’s fair usage policy of 19GB/month on their unlimited plan when you’re travelling in Europe. This is detailed in the SMARTY Support Centre:

You’re entitled to use your data however you like, no matter which of the SMARTY plans you’re on, so you can tether and use your phone as a mobile hot spot with your full allowance if you want to.

The only exception to this is the Unlimited plan and if you’re roaming, where you’ll be limited to 19GB.

The following 30-day plans from SMARTY will allow you to tether from £6.25/month:


Source: SMARTY Help – Tethering and mobile hotspots
Tariff Information: SMARTY Website


With Talkmobile, you can tether on any of their plans. For more information, go to their help pages and search for ‘tethering’. This will give you the tethering policy for their network:

Tethering (using your mobile as an internet hotspot for other devices) is included in all Talkmobile plans. You can tether if you have a data plan and have enabled Wi-Fi hotspot functionality on your phone.

As of April 2017, the Talkmobile brand is being gradually phased out. The mobile network is no longer available to new customers.

Source: Talkmobile Help Pages
Tariff Information: Talkmobile Website

TalkTalk Mobile

You can tether on most 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 TalkTalk Mobile customers.

Source: TalkTalk Help: Mobile Tethering
Tariff Information: TalkTalk Mobile Website

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):

Can I use tethering?
We are happy for you to tether your phone to any other device, to share its internet connection, though we cannot guarantee that every phone will be compatible.

You can use the following Pay As You Go bundles to tether on The Phone Co-Op:

Co-operative Mobile5001,0001GB£10.00
Co-operative Mobile7501,0002GB£15.00
Co-operative Mobile1,0001,0004GB£20.00

Source: The Phone Co-Op: Internet & Data FAQs
Tariff Information: The Phone Co-Op Website

Vectone Mobile

Vectone Mobile allows tethering, but only up to a maximum of 10GB per month. If you exceed this 10GB limit, your services might be suspended. This is stated in clause 4e of their network terms and conditions:

4(e) Tethering of up to 10GB mobile data is permitted; post which, it might result into suspension of your services.

Source: Vectone Mobile Terms & Conditions
Tariff Information: Vectone Mobile Website

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile allows the use of tethering and personal hotspot on all price plans since April 2018.

The following SIM-only deals from Virgin Mobile will allow you to tether:

Virgin Mobile1,500Unlimited1GB£7.00
Virgin Mobile5,000Unlimited10GB£10.00
Virgin Mobile5,000Unlimited45GB£18.00
Virgin MobileUnlimitedUnlimited120GB£22.00
Virgin MobileUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£32.00

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:

Data usage on some Virgin Media tariffs is for mobile internet services and data consumption actually on your handset. It does not include using your handset as a modem to connect other devices such as laptops and tablets – also known as “Tethering”. Please refer to your terms and conditions and other communications from Virgin Media to check whether this applies on your tariff. This applies to all new and upgrading customers since 24 January 2013.

Source: Virgin Media: Terms and conditions of service
Tariff Information: Virgin Media Website

VOXI by Vodafone

VOXI is a low-cost sub-brand of Vodafone offering SIM-only deals with unlimited social media data. You can tether or use personal hotspot on VOXI without any restrictions. This is stated on the “Why VOXI?” web page:

Personal hotspot
Turn your VOXI mobile into a personal Wi-Fi hotspot to share your data with other devices.

The following SIM cards from VOXI will allow you to tether from £10/month:


Source: VOXI Website – Why VOXI?
Tariff Information: VOXI Website

More Information

For more information, see our in-depth guide to mobile broadband. Alternatively, get in touch with your mobile network to find out how you can use tethering functionality.

Your Comments 139 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 139 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi. I used my unlimited data plan with 3 when I visited Cyprus this year. I had only used a few Gbs with tethering when I noticed that my speed was being throttled and effectly made the tethering useless. Will not be renewing my contract with 3.

  • Hi Ken,
    Thanks for your detailed explanation. Do you think it is sensible to get a Vodafone Unlimited Max deal and then slot the SIM card into a 4G router, as a landline broadband replacement? I don’t any gaming but some video streaming and remote desktop.

  • Three unlimited data abroad is a scam. I am within Go Roam destination and purchased unlimited data plan from three, just to find out that it is capped at 15GB and I will be charged 0.44p/Mb above that! this is a SCAM and very disappointed! Rised it with three but was not listen to. When abroad use a local operators, GO ROAM is a scam

    • Hi Joanna,
      Thanks for your comment. I think the Go Roam offer is great value for some data usage abroad, but like you say, there are some fair usage limits on it. To be fair to Three, they do communicate these limits fairly clearly, and their charge of 0.44p/MB is determined by EU legislation. For heavy usage abroad, it will always be better to choose a local provider.

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