Three offers unlimited data on a range of plans with inclusive roaming, personal hotspot and 5G coverage at no extra cost.
In the UK, Three offers a wide range of unlimited data plans including unlimited data SIM cards, handsets and home broadband plans. The plans are sometimes also referred to as having ‘all-you-can-eat data’.
With Three’s unlimited data, you can browse, stream and download as much as you like without the need to worry about how much data you’re using. You’ll currently get 99.8% population coverage on 4G, with 5G coverage being available at no extra cost when it launches in your area. You can share your unlimited data with other devices through tethering and personal hotspot, and you can use up to 19GB of data abroad in other countries through the Go Roam offer.
In this article, we’ll review the unlimited data offering from Three in the UK. We’ll start by looking at the features of Three’s unlimited data price plan and at the multiple ways you’re able to get access to it. We’ll then compare Three’s unlimited data plan to rival mobile networks before looking at the coverage you can expect on the service. Finally, we’ll look at how you can keep your existing phone number when moving from another mobile network to Three.
- 1 Unlimited Data on Three
- 2 Unlimited Data Price Plans
- 3 Network & Coverage
- 4 International Travel
- 5 Keeping Your Phone Number
- 6 More Information
Unlimited Data on Three
All-You-Can-Eat Downloads With No Limit
In the UK, Three has stood out for the best part of a decade amongst the major mobile networks for offering an unlimited data plan.
The network has offered unlimited data since 2010 under the brand name of all-you-can-eat data. The brand name originated from the fact that ‘unlimited data’ policies had been tarnished by limits on other networks (e.g. hidden download limits or fair usage policies). The all-you-can-eat branding was therefore intended to signify truly unlimited downloads with no hidden limits and no fair usage policies.
As of 2019, Three no longer uses the ‘all-you-can-eat’ branding and has now returned to simply calling this ‘unlimited data’. You can get unlimited data on a range of price plans including Pay Monthly, Pay As You Go and home broadband plans.
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 mobile phone 24/7. From the Three website:
Unlimited 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 & 5G At No Extra Cost
All of Three’s unlimited data plans currently give you access to 4G. Download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s are available on Three’s 4G network, subject to coverage in your area and handset compatibility.
Later in 2019, Three is due to launch their 5G service in 25 UK towns and cities. Providing you have a 5G-ready smartphone, you’ll get access to 5G coverage at no extra cost on all of Three’s unlimited data plans. It should be possible to get average download speeds in excess of 100Mbit/s on 5G, with peak download speeds sometimes reaching up to 1,000Mbit/s (1Gbit/s).
Unlike some other networks, Three doesn’t restrict the maximum download speeds on their unlimited data price plan. This is in contrast to other mobile networks like Vodafone, EE and giffgaff. For instance, Vodafone has a range of download speed limits on their unlimited data plans (2Mbit/s on Unlimited Lite, 10Mbit/s on Unlimited and uncapped speeds on Unlimited Max). Meanwhile, EE charges a higher amount if you’d like unlimited data on a 5G-ready SIM card. With giffgaff’s Always-On data, you’ll see a speed reduction to 384Kbit/s (around 0.4Mbit/s) during peak hours once you’ve used 40GB of data in one month.
Tethering & Personal Hotspot
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).
Until October 2018, Three had a 30GB per month limit on how much data you could use through tethering or portable hotspot. As of 2019, this limit no longer applies for both new and existing customers. You can now use your unlimited data allowance for as much tethering and portable hotspot as you like.
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, throttling and traffic management are not ordinarily used in the UK. The exception is in heavily congested locations, where time-critical traffic might be prioritised over other traffic:
As a network built to serve its customers we have to be prepared to ensure we can provide you with a smooth and reliable experience no matter what. In the event of network or equipment failure, or heavy congestion, we may have to deploy technology to ensure that our network runs smoothly, supporting time critical traffic and minimising disruption.
In the past, P2P file-sharing applications (e.g. BitTorrent) were slowed down on the network between 3pm and midnight each day. This is no longer the case, with Three’s key facts indicator confirming there is no longer any restriction on this type of traffic.
The key facts indicator also 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?”).
Traffic management is used when you’re travelling outside of Europe in a Go Roam Around The World location. Video streaming may be limited to standard definition and services such as P2P and VPN might be slowed down. Usage of portable hotspot is also not included when you’re travelling outside of Europe.
Relationship to Go Binge
As an alternative to their unlimited data plans, Three offers a service called Go Binge on all Pay Monthly plans with at least 12GB of data per month. Go Binge offers unlimited data for use on Netflix, TV Player, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Deezer and Apple Music.
Of course, the fully unlimited ‘all-you-can-eat’ data plans give you much more flexibility than Go Binge. This is because you can use your unlimited data allowance on any service you like (including things like BBC iPlayer, YouTube, NOW TV, Spotify, Facebook, Instagram and other services not covered by Go Binge). However, if you don’t need all of this extra flexibility, the cheaper Go Binge price plans may be more suitable for you.
Unlimited Data Price Plans
There are four ways of getting unlimited data on Three: with a Pay Monthly SIM card, with a Pay Monthly handset, on Pay As You Go or on Three Home Broadband.
In the following section, we’ll look at each of these options in more depth:
Pay Monthly SIM
If you already have a smartphone that you’re happy to keep, the cheapest and best value way of getting unlimited data is by ordering one of Three’s unlimited data SIM cards. This SIM card will slot into your existing unlocked smartphone, allowing you to benefit from an unlimited data allowance.
The following SIM cards will give you unlimited data on Three, along with other benefits such as unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, 5G coverage at no extra cost and inclusive roaming in 71 destinations:
Please see Three’s website for a full list of available SIM-only deals.
Pay Monthly Handset
If you’d like a new smartphone to go with your unlimited data plan, you can choose from a range of Pay Monthly handsets on Three. At the time of writing, Three offers a selection of handsets from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google, Honor and OnePlus.
The cost of getting an unlimited data plan depends on the handset you choose and how much you decide to pay upfront for it.
As an example, the following table shows your range of options when getting an iPhone 11 with unlimited data on Three:
Please see the Three website for a full list of available smartphones.
Pay As You Go
For £35, you’ll get unlimited data for one month along with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and an inclusive Pay As You Go Reward (e.g. an Xbox Game Pass, Deliveroo or Tinder Gold subscription).
Alternatively, you can choose to pay in bulk and get a 90-day add-on with unlimited data for £90. You’ll get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data included, but without the inclusive Pay As You Go Reward subscription:
for 30 days
for 90 days
You can order a Pay As You Go SIM card from Three’s website. Alternatively, order a new Pay As You Go handset from Three.
Three offers unlimited data on a range of home broadband plans, starting from as little as £20/month. Powered by 4G or 5G technology, you can often get fibre broadband speeds without the need for a phone line or cable connection.
For most people, the HomeFi Plus service with a Huawei B535 router offers the best value 4G home broadband service. You can get unlimited data with Category 7 LTE download speeds (up to 300Mbit/s) along with dual-band 802.11ac wi-fi connectivity on up to 64 devices at the same time.
|Service||Data Allowance||Contract Length||Upfront Price||Monthly Price|
Three HomeFi Plus
|Unlimited Data||24 month contract||£0||£20/month|
with special offer
Three HomeFi Plus
|Unlimited Data||12 month contract||£29||£27/month|
Three HomeFi Plus
|Unlimited Data||1 month contract||£79||£31/month|
The Huawei AI Cube costs an extra £5/month over the cost of a HomeFi+ router. However, in addition to being a 4G home broadband router, the AI Cube also doubles up as an Amazon Alexa smart speaker so you can use it to control your other smart home devices.
Finally, Three’s 5G home broadband service offers unlimited data for £35/month. It’s currently available only to customers in London, with average download speeds of 100Mbit/s.
|Service||Data Allowance||Contract Length||Upfront Price||Monthly Price|
Three AI Cube
|Unlimited Data||24 month contract||£0||£25/month|
Three AI Cube
|Unlimited Data||12 month contract||£49||£32/month|
Three AI Cube
|Unlimited Data||1 month contract||£149||£32/month|
Three 5G Home
|Unlimited Data||12 month contract||£0||£35/month|
|To show you the most relevant price plans, 2 similar plans have been hidden. Tap here to show them.|
For customers wanting access to broadband internet on-the-go, Three also offers a mobile wi-fi hotspot (MiFi) device. This is a battery-powered device giving you unlimited 4G data, which can be shared with up to 10 devices at the same time.
Network & Coverage
3G & 4G Coverage
Three currently offers 99.8% population coverage on its 4G network and 98.3% population coverage on its 3G network. Customers with an unlimited data plan are able to access both 3G and 4G coverage from Three.
Before joining Three, we’d strongly recommend checking the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Three’s website:
Customers with a 5G-ready device will get access to Three’s 5G network when it launches in their area. 5G is available at no extra cost on all of Three’s unlimited data plans.
So far, 5G coverage has been announced on Three for the following UK towns and cities:
|Now Live||1 towns and cities are live on Three 5G (October 2019)|
|24 towns and cities planned|
Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, Wolverhampton (End of 2019)
For more information, see our guide to the 5G rollout in the UK.
With Three’s unlimited data plans (excluding 5G home broadband), you’ll get international roaming at no extra cost through the Go Roam Around The World offer. This allows you to use your UK allowances when abroad in 71 destinations including most of Europe, the USA and Australia.
If your plan has an unlimited data allowance, a fair usage policy will apply whilst you’re abroad.
Within Europe, this is 19GB/month if you’re a Pay Monthly customer and 15GB/month if you’re a Pay As You Go customer. Further data usage beyond this limit is surcharged at 0.5p/MB (0.41p/MB in countries where VAT does not apply).
Outside Europe, there’s a fair usage policy of 12GB/month on unlimited data plans. Your data usage will be blocked for the rest of the month when you reach this limit.
For more information, please read our full review of the Go Roam offer.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re joining Three on one of their unlimited data price plans, 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. This can be obtained by texting PAC to 65075, or by requesting it online through your mobile network’s website or application. You can then order your new phone or SIM card from the Three website.
After your new phone or SIM card arrives from Three, fill out this form on Three’s website. After submitting your PAC Code through this form, 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 mobile network.
For step-by-step instructions on transferring your phone number to Three, please select your current mobile network from the drop-down menu below:
For more information about transferring your phone number between networks, please see our guide to using a PAC Code.
For more information about unlimited data (or all-you-can-eat data), please see the Three website.