Three offers all-you-can-eat data in the UK with unlimited downloads, 4G internet, Feel At Home and personal hotspot.


In the UK, Three is fairly unique as a mobile network in offering all-you-can-eat data with no limits on how much you can download.

With all-you-can-eat data, you can use your smartphone worry-free for as much browsing, streaming and downloading as you like. You’ll get access to 4G internet and inclusive roaming in 71 destinations, including in most of Europe, the USA and Australia. You can also use your unlimited data allowance for tethering or portable hotspot.

In this article, we’ll review all-you-can-eat data: the unlimited internet offering from Three. We’ll start by looking at the features of the tariff and how it compares to other offers from Three such as Go Binge. We’ll then compare the all-you-can-eat data plans available before looking at coverage, international roaming and how you can keep an existing phone number when moving to Three.

What is All-You-Can-Eat Data?

Unlimited Downloads With No Limit

What is All You Can Eat Data?
All-you-can-eat data is truly unlimited (there are no hidden limits or fair usage policies).

In the UK mobile market, Three has been fairly unique in offering all-you-can-eat data with no download limits since 2010.

The term ‘all-you-can-eat data’ originated from the fact that ‘unlimited’ policies had previously been tarnished (e.g. with hidden download limits and fair usage policies). Instead, the all-you-can-eat branding is intended to signify truly unlimited downloads with no hidden limits or fair usage policies.

As of 2017, all-you-can-eat data remains a key selling point of Three’s flagship mobile deals. For instance, it’s possible to get a SIM card from Three for £24/month with all-you-can-eat data included.

Note: On Three’s website, you’ll sometimes find reference to a monthly download limit of 1,000GB. This figure of 1,000GB is based on a physical limit: it’s how much data Three thinks you’d be able to use if you were downloading on your smartphone 24/7. From the Three website:

All you can eat data gives you worry free internet use. Even if you used your phone for every minute of every day you could only use, subject to TrafficSense™, around 1000GB each month. We may use this cap to identify inappropriate use of the service, such as commercial use, which isn’t permitted under our terms and conditions.

4G Download Speeds

4G LogoAll of Three’s all-you-can-eat data plans include access to 4G, subject to coverage in your area and handset compatibility.

Unlike other mobile networks, Three will not restrict your speeds to 3G after a certain amount of usage (e.g. on giffgaff’s Always-On data plan, speeds are restricted to 384Kbps after the first 9GB per month).

Tethering & Personal Hotspot

Personal Hotspot on iPhone

Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet).

On Pay Monthly and SIM-only contracts with all-you-can-eat data, you can now use your unlimited data allowance for tethering or portable hotspot. Prior to October 2018, a separate allowance of 30GB per month applied to tethering and portable hotspot.

On Essential Pay Monthly contracts, Three does not permit the use of tethering or portable hotspot.

For more information about tethering in the UK, please see our in-depth article about tethering on UK mobile networks.

Throttling & Traffic Management

Three has a traffic management policy known as TrafficSense. According to their key facts indicator, a certain amount of bandwidth may be dedicated to tethering in areas with a congested network:

We don’t constrain the amount of data you can use (subject to your data allowances, of course) but we may dedicate a certain amount of bandwidth to tethering, so that all other types of traffic can make the most of the rest of it.

In the past, P2P file-sharing applications (e.g. BitTorrent) were slowed down on the network between 3pm and midnight each day. However, this should no longer be the case, with Three’s key facts indicator confirming there is no longer any restriction on this type of traffic.

The key facts indicator confirms that your speeds won’t be reduced for using too much data (see the section “Is traffic management used in relation to heavy users?”).

Comparison to Go Binge & Other Plans

Three’s Advanced price plans come with Go Binge (unlimited data on selected services including Netflix).

Alongside their all-you-can-eat data plans, Three also provides a number of other Advanced price plans with large amounts of data (e.g. 30GB or 100GB per month).

On the 30GB and 100GB plans, you won’t have truly unlimited data. However, you’ll probably have enough data for everything you’d like to do on your phone, and you’ll have access to Go Binge which gives you unlimited data for use on selected services (currently Netflix, TVPlayer, Deezer and SoundCloud). You’ll also get the same 30GB tethering allowance and access to Feel At Home Around The World in 71 destinations.

Of course, all-you-can-eat data plans are still much more flexible as you can use the unlimited data allowance with any service you like (including BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, Spotify, YouTube and other services not covered by Go Binge). However, if you don’t need all of this added flexibility, the 30GB and 100GB plans can sometimes work out to be better value.

All-You-Can-Eat Data Plans

There are currently three ways of getting an all-you-can-eat data plan from Three: on a SIM-only deal, on a Pay Monthly contract, or on a Pay As You Go tariff.

Plan Type Data Allowance Tethering Allowance Monthly Price
SIM Only All-you-can-eat Yes From £24/month
Pay Monthly All-you-can-eat Yes Varies depending on handset
Pay As You Go All-you-can-eat Yes Requires £35/month add-on

In the following section, we’ll look at each of these options in more depth:

SIM Only

If you already have a smartphone that you’re happy to keep, the best way of getting an all-you-can-eat data plan is by ordering one of Three’s SIM-only deals. You can get all-you-can-eat data from £24/month on a 12-month contract and from £27/month on a 1-month contract:

12 month contracts

Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£27.00

1 month contracts

Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£0.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£32.00

All-you-can-eat data plans on SIM-only include a tethering or personal hotspot allowance of 30GB per month. Please see the Three website for a full list of their available SIM-only deals.

Pay Monthly

If you’re currently looking to buy a new smartphone, Three offers Pay Monthly contracts with a new handset and all-you-can-eat data.

Pay Monthly contracts have a 24-month commitment, with the price varying depending on the handset you choose.

The following table shows all-you-can-eat data plans for the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, plus the 30GB and 100GB options for comparison:

iPhone 8
TariffMinutesTextsInternetUpfrontMonthlyTotal Cost
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimited100GB£49.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£79.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£49.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£0.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimited100GB£0.00

iPhone 8 Plus
TariffMinutesTextsInternetUpfrontMonthlyTotal Cost
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimited100GB£79.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimited30GB£79.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£79.00
Advanced PlanUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited£0.00

For a full list of available Pay Monthly handsets, please see the Three website.

Pay As You Go

If you’re a Three Pay As You Go customer, you can get all-you-can-eat data by buying the All in One 35 add-on. For £35/month, this will give you all-you-can-eat data along with 3000 minutes and 3000 texts.

You can order a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three’s website. Alternatively, you can order a new Pay As You Go handset.


Three Coverage
Three has 97% population coverage across the UK.

Three offers 97% population coverage across the UK. With an all-you-can-eat data plan, you’re able to access both 3G and 4G coverage from Three.

Before joining Three, we strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on the Three website:

Check Three Coverage ( →

One thing that’s worth noting before joining Three is their 4G coverage is more limited compared to other providers. At the time of writing, Three has about 65% population coverage on 4G. This compares to about 99% 4G coverage on EE, 96% 4G coverage on Vodafone and 78% 4G coverage on O2.

International Travel

Three Feel At HomeWith Three’s all-you-can-eat data plan, you’ll also get free international roaming as part of the Feel At Home offer. On Advanced Pay Monthly contracts and Pay As You Go, this allows you to use your smartphone abroad at no extra charge in 71 destinations (including across the EU, in the US and Australia).

Through Feel At Home, you’re able to take your UK allowances abroad with you including your UK minutes, texts and data allowance.

If your plan has an all-you-can-eat allowance, a fair usage policy will apply when you’re abroad. Each month, you can only use up to a maximum of 3000 minutes, 5000 texts and 12GB of internet (9GB if you’re on Pay As You Go). When you’re abroad, data speeds are also restricted to 2G and 3G.

For more information about the Feel At Home offer, please see our in-depth Feel At Home review.

Keeping Your Phone Number

Transfer Phone Number to Three
It’s a straightforward process to transfer your phone number to Three.

If you’re joining Three on an all-you-can-eat data plan, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.

You should start by asking your current mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code. You can then order your new phone or SIM card from the Three website.

When your new phone or SIM card arrives from Three, fill out this form on Three’s website. After you submit your PAC Code, Three will schedule the transfer of your phone number (normally for the next working day). In the meantime, you’ll continue receiving a service from your old network.

For step-by-step instructions on transferring a phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Phone Number to Three

Your current network provider:

  More Options

For more information about transferring your phone number between networks, please see our guide to using a PAC Code.

More Information

For more information about all-you-can-eat data, please see the Three website.

Your Comments 86 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 86 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Mathias Hill said:

    Three is nowhere as good as they use to be their traffic sense is basically a new term for throttling … I have got their 100GB data plan with 30gb tenthering.
    When first start tethering the speed is at 2.5Mb/s but then within 10 minutes it slows down to 300KB/s.
    So by the looks of it three doesn’t actually want you use your tethering data.
    from what I can see after the first 500Mb downloaded within a short period of time you get traffic sensed (throttled) to unbearable speeds……..
    My fiance is on EE and although her data cap is lower she actually gets a chance to use it if she wants to, which is a whole lot more than Three is offering.

  • Love the blog Ken, keep it up so informative and detailed.

    I don’t what people a lot of these users are on about. Just streamed loads of TV – all in HD from all the major TV channels including satellite, I only had one buffering moment, but moved the phone and I was fine, I’m a heavy YouTube user and only watch material in HD and it buffers but again just be patient, or move the phone.

    Currently without wired broadband, so using my Personal Hotspot heavily and the response time is a tiny bit slower in the evening, maybe my phone towers don’t have as many users on them – there’s always other phone networks, I have a Vodafone back up PAYG SIM and that fly’s along as well.

    I’ve been with 3 for about five years, and haven’t been tempted to move yet – yes every network has it’s hiccups and I’ve seen some slowdown’s in busier places (airports etc.) and coverage can you let you down but I can’t complain for the price, but for day-to-day and my recent heavier use since the loss of my broadband it’s ideal for my usage patterns.

  • John Thompson said:

    I have used 3 on Dongles for years. I paid £10 to top up with 1Gb data for one month and often I only used around 30Mb for going online on my laptop when away, and didn’t losing the 700Mb at month’s end. Twice recently I chose a new option, 3Gb for £20 as my wife accompanied me with her iPad. The Data went the first time in 48 hours, the second topup it was less then 24hours. What are 3 up to, its now daylight robbery!

  • they are bunch of liars, they tie you up in a contract so they can gradually reduce the speed
    first month it was 10 mpbs speeds and then I can’t even used 2 gb out of “all-you-can-eat” data
    the speed is always below 150kbps, whilst upload was 10mbps, which also dropped down to 150 after complaining to support
    support is useless and all they say is “we don’t have fair usage limitations” crap
    worst company ever, better get a deal with fair usage policy after 10gb with another network – this way at least you’ll know what to expect

      • The guy who tells the truth replied:

        Haha you are you aren’t just losing signal. If you aren’t full bars it’s tough to get top speed. I checked at the start of the month and I check mh speeds often. I was 52 download and 25 upload when my allowance refreshed at the start if the month, now I am 59 and 11 after 160gb of data used haha. But my speeds drop dramatically of i don’t have full signal and almost half in speed to about 20mbs down and 3 mbs upload. But the speeds are defo both throttled haha

  • Clearly there IS throttling… it’s called TrafficSense. I suggested to a Three advisor that my data speeds may be throttled, that I’m a heavy user only after midnight, and that I don’t tether or use VPN, His response? “I think you may be referring to TrafficSense.”

  • I have the new all you can eat data SIM from Three. The SIM is installed in a Huawei 4G router and I’m using around 100GB/month. Worked fine for a while, but now 4G connectivity fails and I have to revert to 3G. Ordered a new SIM and it worked on 4G for 48hrs then failed again. Seems that Three are giving ‘All you can eat’, but limiting bandwidth by locking you out of faster connections. In essence, it’s the same as throttling just more obvious. Very frustrating!

    • Hi, you can solve this problem in the router settings, I had the same issue. In router settings set it to 4g only, it forces a 4g connection always.

  • Personally I do not trust Three to deliver what they advertise. They might offer you a contract with 30GB of data just don’t expect to be able to use it all. As what ever you do on line they will start slowing one service down at a time, to the point it dose not work or is just frustrating to use.

    They might hide behind there traffic management T&C’s and word it like they are doing it for the grater of good. But in reality they just want your money and for you to use the service as little as possible.

    I say this after browsing the web for about 15 minuets it would become unusable, but work just fine at first then steadily gets slower. Streaming internet radio worked just fine then one day just kept breaking up on any stream, but works fine on WiFi. I will not be returning to Three as it feels like I have been done!!!

  • Hi, i have a quick question.
    I have the unlimited phone data and 30GB Per month hot-spot.
    I’ve recently moved and haven’t yet got BB installed so im using the hot-spot a lot on my computer.
    My question is… Can i use my data and hot-spot allowance at the same time?
    For e.g. if i’ve got an online game running on my pc thats using my 30GBpm allowance but im also watching a Youtube vid on my phone at the same time, will the YT vid deduct data from my 30GB tethering allowance? or will it work separate off of my unlimited phone data?
    I want to know this as i can easily use up 30GB in one month on my pc so i dont want to waste it. It’d be handy if i can use both data’s separately but at the same time.

    • Hi Darran,
      Great question! Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact criteria that Three uses to detect & separate out personal hotspot usage. My guess is that it should be advanced enough to separate out the two but it could be worth checking with them directly if you want a definitive answer to this question.

  • Traffic Sense was introduced on 31st August 2017. My PAYG All you can eat got throttled on hotspots between 3pm and midnight, even though THREE support will lie and say they never throttle. I took out a monthly SIM deal, and it also got throttle at the same times.

    The 30gb limit is misleading, as it throttled on Monthly contracts also. Before August 31st, I could get up to 50mb/sec, this then dropped to 0.5mb/sec, and with full throttling its more 0.01mb/sec. We seen a drop of 99% on bandwidth.

    I ended the contract, as it’s not anywhere competitive now, as people used it for the hotspots, so I’m cancelling all our company THREE phones, as we can’t use them out int he field. BT have helped us with a super deal on SIM only month to month contracts.

    THREE make terrible decisions, we have been with them pretty much from the start.

  • Hi there. I have a contract with 3 for their HomeFi product as the broadband connection at my house is ridiculously bad (around 0.7mbs). It works great, download of 16mbps etc however I am limited to 40gb which, to begin with was plenty as I was used to limiting my web use due to my rubbish speed. However since we now get faster speeds there is a lot more going on and I’m finishing the 40gb used up after around 15-20 days.
    Is there anyway of getting the all you can eat plan to work on homefi using the Huwaei router provided? If I signed up to the sim only deal and put it straight into the router which would obviously then connect to all of my devices would this act like a phone Or would this count as tethering and therefore be limited to 30gb?
    Hope this makes sense.
    Also any suggestions of other options would be appreciated.


    • Hi Sandy,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t work as Three’s AYCE smartphone plans can only be used in a smartphone as per the terms and conditions. Are you by any chance able to get Relish broadband in your area? They’re another mobile broadband provider, and are actually owned by Three. Alternatively, it might be worth discussing with Three to see if there are any options for upgrading to a plan with more data.

  • Three are getting rid of the unmetered data on PAYG now, from early August 2017. They are changing it to 30gig, so a gig a day.

    I have been using the internet since the 90s and only now have services gotten so consolidated that what was the norm has been removed.

    Data is not a commodity, bandwidth and storage space are. When businesses go along this metered everything path they are just taking the piss out of the customers.

    • Hi Anon,
      Many thanks for your comment. I believe Three are making the following changes to their service:
      – All-in-One 25 will now have 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and 30GB of data
      – All-in-One 35 (new bundle) will have 3000 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data
      I think this is actually a fairly positive development for customers using less than 30GB of data per month as they’ll now get 3000 minutes to use each month. Obviously, though, this is bad news for anyone who needs unlimited data – it feels like PAYM would now be a more suitable option?

  • Greetings from Singapore.

    My family is planning for 3-week holiday in UK. I find your article extremely helpful.

    I am interested in Three’s “All-you-can-eat-data”. I also need the phone (iPhone 6Plus) to be setup as hotspot for all family members to share the data connection.

    I am inclined to go for the “SIM Only” solution. They offer a “1-month contract @£30”. I wonder if this option is available to tourist? How about the “Pay As You Go @ £25/month” scheme?

    Regarding “No Tethering Allowance” for “Pay As You Go @ £25/month”, I wonder if there is a change in policy. In this article:, the author says that he is able to setup his phone with “Pay As You Go” as hotspot. Please let me know if I understand wrongly.

    Warmest Regards

    • Hi TC,
      Many thanks for your comment and hope you’re looking forward to your trip to the UK!
      Unfortunately, the “Pay Monthly SIM Only” solution will not be available to you as a visitor to the UK. The reason for this is because it’s a post-paid contract, so you’ll need to pass a UK credit check and you’ll need a UK bank account. It’s also a rolling contract, for which you’ll need to give 30 days notice to end.
      As a visitor to the UK, you’re therefore normally restricted to Pay As You Go deals. Three has a £25/month deal on Pay As You Go with all-you-can-eat data, but as you say, tethering isn’t officially allowed on this tariff. There might be a couple of “workarounds” but of course, they’re not guaranteed to work and it would still violate the T&Cs of the tariff.
      Two thoughts on this:
      1) If you’d like a Pay As You Go tariff on which you’re able to tether, you can see my guide here about tethering on UK mobile networks (in short: there are plenty of PAYG alternatives, but it really depends on how much data you want).
      2) You might find it better value (and also better for your battery life) to get individual SIM cards for each person in your family. You can expect to pay about £10 each for one-months usage, with no need to specifically choose a network that allows you to tether. This would also be incredibly useful should your group need to split up (no need to always be in range of the person who has the wi-fi hotspot).
      Hope this helps,

      • TC Chua replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thank you for your comprehensive reply. I notice that your site is so much useful then the Telco sites !!! Great job.

        I am inclined to go for the £20 (Always On/6GB) from Giffgaff. This should be sufficient for our family while on the move (We are spending an average of 3 hours per day on the road).

        Giffgaff site is awfully designed and hard to navigate. They also do not offer online chat. I read through some review sites and their network level is rated 3/5. Just want to hear from you if they are good for tourists?

        Thank you so much for putting up this website. I would recommend it as a “MUST READ” site for all tourists visiting UK.

        • Hi TC,
          No problem at all – I’m really glad to be able to help out! I think giffgaff is a fantastic network, and I’d definitely recommend them (especially so if you’re a visitor to the UK). The good news is you should be able to order a giffgaff SIM card online which they can dispatch overseas and you can also use a non-UK credit card to top-up online.
          With regards to online reviews, I’d also take them with a pinch of salt as they tend to become places for people to gripe about coverage, etc (most UK networks will have a low review score online, whereas in reality, things aren’t actually that bad). giffgaff uses coverage from O2, and their online support is managed through an online forum rather than live chat.
          Hope this helps!

          • TC Chua replied:

            Thanks. I will try to order a SIM online. If it dosen’t work, I will keep you and your readers updated.

            Again, many thanks for the wonderful efforts.

  • Hi,

    I have an old wi-fi unit and would like to use threes sim only packages rather than take out a new contract to get a newer device. Will the sim only packages work in my old unit? I think its about 4 years old?

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment. In theory, there’s no reason why you couldn’t use a SIM-only package in your old mobile wi-fi unit. However, using a regular smartphone SIM card in a mobile wi-fi device is against the terms and conditions of a regular SIM-only deal. Instead, you’ll need to get one of Three’s mobile broadband SIM cards.
      Hope this helps,

  • Nick Clatworthy said:

    When tethering, I too have struggled with data transmission rates too low to be of any use. I have had this trouble with Giffgaff but it seems other people have had the same with Three. Giffgaff assures me that there is nothing wrong at their end and that I am doing nothing wrong. My cure is to do a reset. All I have to do is to put the SIM into another phone and I am back up to full speed at once but only until I am throttled again. I think you can reset the original phone with a SIM from another company. My plan is to use SIMs from Three and Giffgaff in two phones and swap them over as the need arises. Inconvenient to say the least.

  • Just thought I would say that I went from London to Edinburgh on the train this week and watched streaming video on my phone most of the way on Three with only two or three short drops of signal. I used about 25GB of data. Highly impressive and I only pay £17 per month for the sim card.

    Incidentally, when I phoned them recently to cancel another sim card they waned to reduce my £17 to £9 in some sort of effort to make me stay. It might be worth haggling if you feel its worth the risk of them accidentally cancelling the wrong contract.

  • Further to Matt Kettle’s comment – I have an unlockled 3 Mobile Mifi device which I use use in Spain. Last year, I simply went to a Vodafone shop in Spain and bought a SIM with 2GB of data, activated it through my iphone and then transferred it to the Mifi – it worked fine for the duration of the 2GB of data.

    However, as 3 Mobile (I currently have all the family on 3 mobile for our phones) have included Spain in their Feel At Home package, I want to buy a PAYG SIM with as much data as possible, activate it in my phone and then move it to the Mifi – and use it at no extra cost in Spain – is this going to be possible?

    I know that officially the answer is NO! I have read that 3 Mobile can detect that the SIM is being used in a Mifi and block it – can this block it outside of the UK? Has anyone tried this?

    As I said, I know that if I ask 3 Mobile, they will say it can’t be done because they will lose a shed load of money – but CAN it be done in reality? Do they have the tech to block a SIM being used outside of the UK?

    • If you put phone sim into a mifi unit, 3 will block your internet whether you are in UK or abroad. It happened to me so I suggest you get a PAYG data sim instead.

      • If 3 block a Sim because they detect it as a phone sim in a mifi unit. Does the sim get blocked permanently or can it be taken out of the mifi and put back into an iPhone and work again?
        I’m trying to use a 3 pay as you go sim in Spain with all you can eat data. I’m travelling on the 14th November and haven’t registered the sim yet.

  • Dear Ken

    I recently transferred mine and my daughters mobile numbers to 3 all you can eat.

    Vodafone have emailed me two bills, one for November (£57) and one for December (£12.50).

    As I have transferred, it appears I no longer have access to my Vodafone online account (and therefore can’t look at or print any past or current bills). I called their customer services, and after a long wait found out the chap I was speaking to is in Egypt, with poor English. He cannot access my account either or send bills to me as the account has been changed to 3. This seems unreasonable.

    Surely I should be able to look at/print my last 12 months bills for business expense purposes and surely I should be able to see the details of what they are billing me for. All he could say was I had to go into a Vodafone mobile shop in the UK, but as I travel a lot and am in France currently so this isn’t an option.

    Does anyone know if they are allowed to effectively stop access to all of your previous account information like that or have any advice as to how, other than going into a UK Vodafone shop, I can access details of the two most recent bills.?


    • Hi Samantha,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, Vodafone will automatically disable your online account area when you move to another network. It should still be possible to get hold of your old bills but you’ll need to contact a member of Customer Services (e.g. see a similar question from the Vodafone online forums). I know this isn’t a huge amount of help as you’ve already tried calling Customer Services. I would, however, try calling again as another member of their team could prove more helpful. Alternatively, you could message one of the Tech Team on Vodafone’s online forums (they tend to be pretty helpful in answering your queries!)

  • Great article. Very informative.

    Just touching on some of the comments related to throttling… I am on a Note 4 (have never tethered) with an all you can eat data 4G contract. When I first received my phone I regularly saw 11Mbps and occasionally dropped to 7Mbps.

    Now (in the same location), I receive 0.02Mbps. I have racked up 8GB in data download in 1 month through YouTube and maybe some Skype calls. Again, I’ve not tethered yet. I have seen these speeds for a number of days now at varying times of the day (even as early as 6AM).

    This is almost certainly three’s throttling in effect. I was assured there were no fair usage policies, but am wondering if something else was tucked away in a contract or additional document that I’ve missed.

    Any thoughts?

    • It looks like you’ve been a victim of Three’s “Traffic Sense” policy.

      Basically, their traffic management system has determined your data usage .. is far too high, and because you’re a member of the peak-time data hogger brigade, they’ve decided temporarily slowing down your data connection ‘will make it fair for other users’. I believe this is a temporary measure and they only target a small percentage of the top-tier active users on any given mast. So, if you live in the middle of a city you’re less likely to be traffic managed than someone in a small town. Note “unlimited data” is different to “unlimited bandwidth”. They don’t make promises they’ll deliver it at consistently high speeds. In theory they could traffic manage you down to 56 Kbps and still class their service as “unlimited data” as they wont stop offering this service. It’s a bit sneaky IMHO and how they can claim to offer unlimited 4G whilst giving you less than a quarter of 1Mbps is ridiculous. GiffGaff also do this.,Kb=Mobile,Ts=Mobile,T=Article,varset_cat=signal,varset_subcat=3804,Case=obj(4046)

      • Thanks Kevin – great reply! I do wonder how this matches up with Three’s Traffic Management Policy (traffic management should only apply from 3PM to midnight and should only affect a couple of activities (e.g. P2P). It’s possible they could have updated the policy or perhaps they’re not totally transparent about how traffic management is used.

  • Hi Ken

    Really interesting website.

    Just have a quick question if I keep my t-mobile unlimited data package on 3G put received through a 4G phone would I also get 4G phone service against my 3G contract?

    • Hi Parminder,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, T-Mobile is a 3G-only network (you’ll need to upgrade to EE if you’d like to have a 4G service). It’s still possible to use a 4G handset on the T-Mobile network but you’ll only have access to 2G and 3G.

  • Hi there,
    I was intrigued by the “all you can eat data” deal on pay as you go – it seems you can have access to the £15 deal with a 30 day contract instead of 12 months.
    Great stuff!

    • Hi Nuno,
      Indeed – the £15 deal on Pay As You Go (300 minutes, 3000 texts and all-you-can-eat data) is probably even better than the SIM only Pay Monthly deal (£18/month for 200 minutes, unlimited texts and all-you-can-eat data on a 30-day contract). Do be aware however that tethering is only permitted on Pay Monthly tariffs.

      • Even though tethering isn’t ‘permitted’ on PAYG, I’ve been doing it for months and nothing has been done on my end. I am one of the victims of TrafficSense but there’s not really any other option for me.

        My town is pretty small and I wouldn’t be surprised if I was only one of 10 people using the mast in my area.

  • Hi all,
    From Dan at CoolSmartphone, it’s now reported that Three are gradually moving customers on The One Plan over to new plans without unlimited tethering (all-you-can-eat data is still available but only with 2GB or 4GB of tethering). It’s only being done for customers outside of the minimum term of their contract. Unfortunately, this will remove one of the ways where existing customers are able to bypass the new limit on tethering by continuing their old contract and buying a SIM-free handset elsewhere.

  • If you follow the ‘all you can eat data’ terms and conditions by using it EXCLUSIVELY on your smartphone, you will not be throttled at all. Give it a whirl and thank me later.

    • I don’t tether but I’m sat right now with a download speed of a quarter meg and upload of 10 meg, that’s throttling and it happens regularly

  • Well_Disgruntled said:

    I do not have a Three mobile phone but I want to change from EE back to Three for my mobile dongle broadband.

    I used to have a 3G Three PAYG dongle, but went with EE for 4G. But they turned out to be absolute rubbish because of their broken Content Lock malware.

    Is it possible to get one of these 4G Broadband deals with a mobile dongle?

    Many Thanks

    • Hi there,
      Have you tried contacting EE to turn off the Content Lock setting? I too have experienced problems with the settings (at one stage, I believe Twitter was even blocked by the default Content Lock setting!)
      With regards to Three, unfortunately it isn’t possible to get a mobile broadband SIM with all-you-can-eat data. For dongles, you’ll need to get one of their mobile broadband SIM cards. The largest package currently available is 10GB of data for £15/month on Pay As You Go.

      • Well_Disgruntled replied:

        Oh, Dear God, what do you think I have been doing every week for the last few months? The decision is made. I do not want your ridiculous suggestions about EE, I am asking ONLY about THREE.

        Yes! I AM in a very bad mood! 🙂

        Sorry! Their damned MALWARE is broken. It activates itself for no damned reason and does not just block Twitter and Farcebook, it blocks scientific, comedy and music videos on YouTube and even PubMed, for serious scientific articles. Sometimes, it blocks every site I manage to visit AFTER I have visited it.

        It is a heap of s***. And it is not needed as I have an OS, a browser and an Antivirus/Security package which have Content Filters that WORK.

        Even Google has its own Content Filter – and it WORKS.

        And, in any case, there is a HUGE difference between 17 and 4 years old, so this “under 18” c*** is stupid. You can marry and have children at 16, but EE won’t let people look at Page 3 images, or videos of Freddy Mercury? Why? Because he died of HIV AIDS? How does THAT “protect” 17 year olds?

        And everyone using my PC will have their own, separate log-on account with their own content filters.

        EE’s Content Lock does not Filter Content – it just blocks access to the internet.

        That is why they called it Content LOCK, not Content Filter.

        In fact, it blocks EVERYTHING legal, decent, honest and truthful that I want from the Internet. Including PG-rated MMO PC games and old HD Led Zeppelin videos – the very reason I bought the 2 year contract in the first place.

        £50 a month 2 year contract for 50 GB 4G broadband.

        Why does THREE not have such a package?


        There are a lot of people scammed by EE who are looking at alternative ISPs.

        • Hi there,
          Very sorry to hear about your problems on EE – I was only trying to help based on my experience! It does sound as if the content filter is badly broken on your account and I’m not really sure why this is happening.
          With regards to a large data allowance on a mobile broadband tariff, unfortunately it is hard to find and I believe only EE are currently offering such a large data package on mobile broadband tariffs. The reason for this is partly because they have the most widespread 4G coverage across the UK (4G technology greatly reduces the per-megabyte cost for the mobile network operator). With the other networks still having limited 4G coverage, it could be a while until it’s economical for other networks to offer a similar package. Three is probably the closest with 10GB for £15/month. Unlimited data is available when you’re using a smartphone but tethering is limited to either 2GB or 4GB of internet per month.

          • Well_Disgruntled replied:

            What does this mean?

            “On Three, all-you-can-eat data starts from £28/month”

            How does 2 to 4 GB equate as “all-you-can-eat”? I assure you, I can eat MORE than 30 GB a month with no trouble at all.

            WHEN IT WORKS!

            Could I get a Smart Phone and plug it into my Desktop as if it were a dongle and use my 24″ monitor instead of the ludicrously, hopelessly inadequate telephone screen, and get unlimited Internet Access that way?



          • Well_Disgruntled replied:

            Sorry, I am often in an absolutely foul mood these days because of this. I rely on the Internet for almost EVERYTHING. Including finding an alternative ISP!

            And half the time it does not work, either because of #EE’s CONTENT LOCK MALWARE# or, like today, it is running like cold treacle, the connection drops every few minutes and it says that almost every internet page cannot be found. I am AMAZED I got through to this page.

            It is 16:00, Sunday, 26th October, 2014, and since 11:00 AM this morning NOTHING but shit!!

            I cannot even post on EE’s site to tell them how bad they are, taking my money and giving me nothing but grief.

            It is not just irritating, distressing and infuriating, it can be soul-destroying. MY PC is all I have. I have no TV and cannot even watch anything on YouTube.

            Look, THREE!

            HERE is my CREDIT CARD!!! I AM WAVING MY WALLET!!!



            I still have 27 GB to use up in the next 8 hours, anyway. I want to cancel my contract, block the direct debit and go with someone else. NOW.

            “Three is probably the closest with 10GB for for £15/month.”

            Is that PAYG? 10 GB is nowhere near enough. But 30 GB for £45 might be. As long as it is genuinely unthrottled, 4G, minimum 100 Mbps.

            “Unlimited data is available when you’re using a smartphone but tethering is limited to either 2GB or 4GB of internet per month.”

            What? What is “tethering”? So this article on unlimited internet access is a lie, after all?


  • No tethering abroad is a big problem, means airport time and any foreign travel where there is no wifi is restricted to phone for e mailing etc. do any other networks allow this?

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your comment. Three won’t allow you to tether from your phone when using your handset abroad in a country with unlimited data (e.g. with the Euro Internet Pass or the Feel At Home offer). One thing you could consider doing is getting a Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband SIM card. You can still use the ‘Feel At Home’ offer with a mobile broadband SIM card so it’s perfect for using your laptop abroad at the airport. It’s £10.49 for 1GB of data (lasts for 1 month) or £70.49 for 12GB of data (lasts for a maximum of 12 months).
      With regards to other networks, quite a few of them should normally allow you to tether when abroad. However, do bear in mind you’ll probably be paying at least £6/MB for the privilege of doing this (less if you’re travelling within Europe).

  • The 4G speeds are just a gimmick!!!
    They aren’t fast whatsoever… It is just lying like in every business…
    What a ridiculousness I am on 4G and speeds are only 4Mbps and upload is 25? that what I never use ? F*** off 3-UK!!! You are THROTTLERS!!!

  • You can’t ever get a clear answer from three – So- my plan is to say – if I lose my unlimited tethering – then I switch – Some say if I continue to, simply, pay then my service will continue. I say that if they alter my plan in any way – I’m just going with another provider – end of!!!! I’ve been with these people for years.

  • hello – very helpful article – Do you know what would happen after you hit the limit for the 4 GB tethering ? Does it just stop , or is there a risk of incurring unexpected charges? Thank you

  • I’m on the one plan with tethering at the moment with an iPhone 5 and was considering upgrading to an iPhone 6plus. Looking at the tethering limits for the all you can eat plan now would it be better for me to buy the iphone6 from Apple and continue using my one plan to get the unlimited tethering?

    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for your comment. If you do want to keep the unlimited tethering, it would be necessary to stay on your current plan (The One Plan). You could still upgrade your handset by buying the iPhone 6 Plus SIM-free and unlocked (prices would start at £619 for the 16GB version).

      Before doing so however, I would consider the cost implications. To give an example, let’s say you’re currently paying £45/month for all-you-can-eat data and unlimited tethering (This is a ballpark estimate as I’m not totally sure how much your contract currently costs!). If you were to keep the current contract and to buy a SIM-free 16GB iPhone 6 Plus, you’d pay £619 today plus £45/month on an on-going basis.

      If you were to switch to a new plan, you’d have two options:
      1. Get the iPhone 6 Plus on a contract from Three. It’s £99 upfront plus £51/month for all-you-can-eat data and 2GB of tethering. You would save £385 compared to the option suggested (you’d save £529 upfront but you’d pay £6/month extra for the next 24 months).
      2. Get a SIM-free iPhone 6 Plus and switch over to one of Three’s SIM only contracts. For all-you-can-eat data and 4GB of tethering, you’d pay £619 upfront to Apple and then £23/month for a SIM only deal. The cost saving is £22/month (or £528 over the 24 month contract).

      So unless you actually need more than 2GB or 4GB per month tethering, I’d strongly recommend switching to a new plan. Even if you required more tethering, it’s £5/month extra for 1GB of additional tethering. Hence, it would still be cheaper to switch to over a new SIM-only plan unless you require more than 8GB of tethering per month (i.e. you’d pay £43/month for all-you-can-eat data and 8GB of tethering).

      Hope this helps!


      • Well – Does this mean that I can simply choose to continue to pay, using my existing contract and my tethering will continue as before???? – Please do not give an ambiguous answer.

        • Hi Mike,
          Please accept my apologies – I was trying to provide as much info as possible when answering the question posed by Richard above. To answer your question in a more concise way, yes – you’re able to keep your existing tariff with all-you-can-eat tethering if you continue to pay. If you later choose to upgrade to a new plan, your tethering would drop down to only 2GB/month (4GB/month on a SIM only plan).
          Despite it being possible to keep your old plan, it probably isn’t cost-effective for the majority of users. In Richard’s example, he’d actually save £22/month by dropping down to all-you-can-eat data with only 4GB of tethering. He could use this extra money to add more data for tethering on his new plan – it would only become cost-effective to keep the old contract if he were to use more than 8GB of tethering per month.
          Hope this helps,

  • Just to let you know Ken that from the 24th of this month GiffGaff will no longer be offering unlimited data on it’s £12 package, the price has been raised to £18.

  • I have had similar problems of speed being slowed down by 3 to 2 mbps, And similar upload speeds, A reboot of my phone has solved the problem, I think for £23, For what i get is a good deal, I dont know how there MIFI Broadband is, Maybe someone will tell us

  • Three is an absolute joke. They sell you all of these great features like ‘unlimited data’ but between 3pm and 12am they seriously throttle you. Download Speeds go from 8-10mb down to less than 0.5 mbs. You literally can’t do a thing. Web pages take ages to load, forget trying to watch a video on your way home from work.

    Three sounds great, using it is a completely different thing!!! AVOID!!!!

  • I took out a monthly sim only deal with three, Unlimited 4g with unlimited tethering, 2000 min and unlimited text, I have had it now 6 months, I was told i am in a very good area for 4g, And there on line checker confirms that, But i have never hit a 4g connection ever, And ive tried my phone all over the house bottom of garden etc, But def no 4g, There on line checker is incorrect and cant be trusted, I have made 4 complaints to there on line complaints form, But completely ignored ,

      • Hi Bernard,
        Thanks for your comment. In the past, The One Plan included all-you-can-eat data and unlimited tethering. Unfortunately, Three have now changed their tariffs (The One Plan is no longer available). A tariff taken today with all-you-can-eat data would either have 2GB of tethering (Pay Monthly contracts with a new handset) or 4GB of tethering (SIM only deals where you keep your current handset).
        Hope this helps!

        • Bernard Ryan replied:

          Thanks Ken i bought my own 4g phone, And got the monthly contract, I pay £23.00 a month, And get unlimited tethering, I must use at least 4gb a week, I watch a lot of youtube, I have been in some parts of the country, Were i have had some fantastic speeds, Ive hit over 50 kbps in some places, I was thinking of getting a 3 mifi unit, With the, Ariel on it, So to get a better signal, But it is suggested that my sim may not work in the 3 mifi, Do you know if this is correct for sure, As after reading some forums, Some people have said it works ok.

          • Hi Bernard,
            Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the terms and conditions of The One Plan SIM card prohibit you from using the SIM card in a mobile broadband device (this includes the 3 MiFi unit). Whilst it is possible from a technical perspective (i.e. the SIM cards are 100% compatible), it’s likely to be noticed by Three and you may find them suspending your account. Hence, for this reason, I’d strongly recommend against doing so.
            Three do have some mobile broadband SIM cards (e.g. £15/month for 10GB of data). For use in a MiFi, this probably works out as being even cheaper and will fully comply with the terms and conditions.
            Hope this helps!

  • Hi,

    Great article, a good read!! When I’m free to cancel my current contract with another provider, I’m planning to get the cheapest SIM-only all-you-can-eat data contract. When I’m on holiday in one of Three’s Feel at Home countries, could I transfer the SIM into an unlocked MiFi device and use the data up to the 25GB/month limit (essentially, fooling the SIM card into thinking that the data is being used by the “phone” and not other devices)?

    • Hi Robert,
      Thanks for your comment and for the kind words about the article! Unfortunately, it’s not possible to use your smartphone SIM card within a MiFi (it’s possible from a technical perspective but doesn’t comply with Three’s terms and conditions). Also, you can’t tether abroad in a Feel At Home country (hence using the data on devices apart from your phone).
      One thing you could do is to get a Mobile Broadband SIM card before you go on holiday. £15 gets you 10GB of data on a 1 month contract. You can use this SIM within a MiFi or also in your phone (albeit with no calls & texts included). Mobile broadband packages are fully compatible with the Feel At Home offer (see the info from Three’s website).
      Hope this helps!

  • One Plan scrapped a week before i was able to upgrade have now replaced that contract with BT for broadband for the house.
    When my other remaining one plan contract expires it too gets the chop. Three say coverage 98% of country. I’m a truck driver and to be honest i have a Vodaphone sim as back up as three’s mobile internet signal is rubbish for at least 50% of the country and I do need a phone even if no internet available.

  • Working very well for me, the 4G is so fast that I prefer it to my home wifi. For the price, even if there might be some throttling sometimes, I don’t see which other contract I could take for unlimitted data at the moment.

  • This weekend is the last time all you can eat tethering is available in the UK from any network. the brilliant one plan tariff from 3 will be updated on Monday night. the new yet to be revealed 3 tariffs are a real disappointment.
    if you are a heavy data user & like to tether to other devices sign up now to the one plan before its too late…

  • James Heath said:

    There’s certainly much confusion about what’s on offer with three.But i can only comment on my own experience. I’ve been on The One Plan September last year and have had no problems whatsoever. Download speeds are brilliant, regularly running at 20mbps to 30mbps and teather my laptop and NowTv box too.
    If all of the information in this article are true then the only important bit is

    “On certain masts that are congested, Three applies a traffic management system called TrafficSense. Between 6pm and midnight, P2P services and software updates may be slowed down.”
    And “Three’s all-you-can-eat data plans do not have a download limit or a fair usage policy.”

    Brilliant. 🙂

  • hi , i just took the ultimate internet 500 contract on the iphone 5s , but i have no service in my house can’t get a home signal box because i dont have broadband . i pay 37 per month called up three . they said they would let me pay 30 per month since it is not possible for me to use my data but i feel i should pay 27 since i can’t use the internet . should i haggle for 27 ?

    • Hi Malika,
      Thanks for your comment! I’d certainly haggle and try to get the best price possible from Three – obviously the internet connectivity is a big part of your service and if you aren’t able to use it then you should try to get the lowest price possible.
      Alternatively, it would be even better if you can escape the contract and to choose another network which offers coverage in your house. The biggest problem is you’re probably locked in to a 24 month contract – with no way of escaping (except from paying early termination fees). As such, you have limited bargaining power when arguing with Three and you might be forced to pay whatever they offer. So I’d certainly try for £27/month but there’s no guarantee they’ll offer it to you!

      • Surely, this cannot be this case. I’m no techie but I’ve study contract law as part of my degree and if Three are not providing the service you signed a contract for, then they are in beech of the contract, hence, you should be able to terminate the contract with no penalties!

  • Good thing I found this as I was just about to pull the trigger on ‘The One’. But these comments are ancient so perhaps it’s been resolved now? Also, I use Tmobile payg and it DOES permit tethering. Hell, I’m tethering as I type this.

  • sunjaybhogal said:

    I can confirm that Three Network are throttling speed during 3pm and Midnight, I notice that when I am streaming movies. I am more like to use streaming during that time especially during the weekend and evening. What is the point all all much as you want data when you getting download steaming speed.

  • I am on the same plan and I can confirm what Dean is saying, I have also asked Three if they could tell me what the limits are before you get throttled and they will not give me a straight answer. All the tell me is well if you use your phone for web browsing it is ok but if you use it for streaming video such as You tube that would be considered a high date consumption, Oh my god!!!!
    We need to take Three to court, this is totally unbelievable I am not even using the internet that much, but they will not tell me any figures, not to mentioned that no one has attempted to contact me to let me know that my connection was been throttled.
    They are so shameless is beyond belief!!!!! Avoid!!!

  • Dean Piper
    DO NOT TAKE OUT THE ONE PLAN!!! I AM PERSONALLY ON THE ONE PLAN AND I AM BEING THROTTLED!!!! unlimited data yet they have introduced throttling as of 12 may 2012 for top 5% of users. pathetic, illegal, ive emailed ceo david dyson and am looking elsewhere PS 3UK-YOU CANT SELL ‘UNLIMITED WITH NO THROTTLING CONTRACTS AND THEN THROTTLE PEOPLE-ITS ILLEGAL!!! I am now looking for alternative contracts

  • Just sgined up to this and when it works its amazing. Having some very odd connectivity issues though where some days there is simply no data connection despite saying full strength signal and the hsdpa symbol is there. 3 don’t want to help or investigate so be cautious and don’t sign up to any long term deals until issues like this are solved. I was considering their 3 cube too which effectively removes the need for a phone line at home but alas I may have to think again.

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