Mobile Technology Uncovered

What networks offer unlimited data in the UK?

unlimited data - infinite downloads

Unlimited data is essential if you are concerned about extra data charges or running out of data.

Millions of people in the UK spend a good portion of their time online interacting in the social media and mobile applications. These platforms have gone a notch higher in improving communication by having amazing features that allow users to keep in touch with their family and friends as well as the world at large through online chats, FaceTiming, video conferencing, Facebook, Twitter and many more. But here is a catch, for you to have the whole online experience you need to have unlimited data plan else you will end up getting frustratingly disconnected from time to time.

Purchasing limited data can be quite expensive and annoying. It is always advisable that you purchase unlimited data which allows you to use as much data as you want on your phone or tablet without getting disconnected from the internet. In the UK there are only four cellular companies that offer unlimited data packages, these include Three UK, GiffGaff, Lycamobile and Virgin Mobile. Purchasing limited data can be quite expensive and annoying. It is always advisable that you purchase unlimited data which allows you to use as much data as you want on your phone or tablet without getting disconnected from the internet. In the UK there are only four cellular companies that offer unlimited data packages, these include Three UK, GiffGaff, Lycamobile and Virgin Mobile.

These four network operators offer varying unlimited data packages at varying prices and offers, more so as a marketing campaign but also with the intention of luring in more subscribers. They tend to give the best data deals they can, as well as incorporate other special add-ons best fit to their customers. That said, it is good to keep in mind that not every unlimited package is worth the price. Some network providers offer unlimited data plans but with restrictions such as capping internet speed after exhausting a certain amount of data, while others don’t allow tethering. Thus close scrutiny is advised. Moreover, with the introduction of 4G network service, it is advisable that you choose a cellular company that has 4G coverage. For enhanced connectivity and almost 10X the internet speeds, all vital for a bespoke online experience. Below is an in-depth analysis of some of the network operators, showcasing of the various data plans, as well as the reliability of the network as a whole. Guiding you in making informed decision in which cellular company best suits your internet demands.

Four providers of unlimited data in the UK

1. Three UK

Three is one of the youngest cellular companies in the United Kingdom as well as one of the best mobile operators that boast of great data deals and good network coverage. It is owned by one of the biggest telecommunication company in the world, Hutchison Whampoa, which is said to be the main reason behind its success and tremendous achievements. It was launched in 2003 and has grown strong and famous over the years. Despite being the last cellular company to offer 4G, it defied all odds and went ahead to clinch the prize of ‘the best data network’ at the uSwitch awards. For information on unlimited data plans see 3g.co.uk/unlimited data for full details.

Coverage

Three is known to offer good network coverage with its 3G network reaching up to 97% of the UK population. Despite late launching of the 4G network which was done in December 2013, it has gone ahead and tried to cover as much population as possible with intentions of reaching the rural subscribers sooner than expected.

Data packages

For all the data-hungry consumers, three is the best network with compelling offers that you can’t ignore. It is known for its data friendly tariffs and some of the best-unlimited data deals that are amazingly cheap with no capping of download speeds. These data deals include

All You Can Eat (AYCE)

This is one of the best packages Three designed for its average subscribers. This package gives unlimited data and is said to have lured in quite a good number of new subscribers when it was launched. This data deal has an inclusion of Pay monthly and also Pay As You Go Plans that offer unlimited data for both SIM and handsets. In addition, it enables tethering and allows the subscriber to use the handset abroad in 71 destinations with no extra charges. Just when you thought it’s finished, they introduced the Go Bing plan that allows the subscribers to stream free Netflix shows, TV player and other cites as well as listen to music on Deezer, Spotify, Soundcloud and Apple Music without any data charges.

For SIM only they offer unlimited data plans with either 1month or 12months contract, these include deals like a 12month contract that allows you to access unlimited data, texts and minutes at only 34 pounds a month. A 1-month contract that has unlimited data, texts and minutes at only 35 pounds a month.

The Pay monthly unlimited data plan comes with either a 12month contract that enables the user to access unlimited data, minutes and texts at a cost of 34 pounds a month or a 1month contract that also offers access to unlimited data, minutes and texts but at a cost of 35pounds a month.

For pay as you go deal you can opt for All-In-One-Add-Ons to enable you to get extra bundles for calls, data and minutes or you can go for Afromentioned Add-ons that are exclusively found on the three apps where you get awarded 10mb every time you pay for a top up. This deal can enable you to access unlimited data, 3000 minutes and 3000 texts at 35 pounds a month.

Customer service

Three offers one of the best customer services there is, they are easy to deal with and tend to handle customers well. They also have a service called ‘pick up the phone’ where a customer care is always waiting.

Three is yet to offer any quad play services and the only step they have taken towards that direction is introducing the homeFi that is 4G enabled and has no contract. It can support up to 32 devices and you will be required to pay 24pounds so as to access 40GB of data.

Three is indeed one of the best data networks. It has amazing offers with very incredible deals that are rare to find on any network operator. It is quite impressive that the unlimited data they offer comes with no restrictions like capping when downloading and this makes them quite unique.

2. GiffGaff

GiffGaff is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that was launched in 2009 as an experiment by the O2 network. It grew popular as the only network with no customer care numbers as well as their affordable data and minutes which are known as the goodybags or gigabags that are add-on. To critic’s surprise, it overtook other 160 virtual companies by introducing low data prices, no contracts and equal treatment of customers. Known to be run by its esteemed subscribers, GiffGaff is the third largest Virtual network in the world with its subscribers having flexible monthly plans. It has won numerous awards including the Forrester Groundswell award, the most innovative community award at the social CRM customer excellence award among others.

Data plans

GiffGaff is popular for both unlimited SIM only and an unlimited mobile phone plan that can be tethered, it is 4G enabled, though it has some restrictions such as capping of speed up to 384Kbps after the first 9GB. This capping is done between 8am to midnight. The SIM only goodybag comes with free calls and texts, only to GiffGaff numbers as well as roaming abroad in European Union countries and other chosen locations that total to 37 destinations, this is incorporated in the Pay As You Go SIM only plan. If you want to roam outside the stated 31locations you will be required to pay a total of 20pounds per megabyte. They also offer Broadband which enables subscribers to access a maximum of 500mb.

Each and every data plan is 4G ready thus the user needs to have a 4G handset and 4G coverage to access them. It also has my GiffGaff app that can be downloaded from the Google PlayStore or the Apple store and it comes with features that allow customers to access goodybags, top up their balance and manage their accounts.

Amazing facts about GiffGaff

Famously known for its catchphrase ‘The mobile network run by you’, GiffGaff has no existing call centres or customer care hotline, it is run by its own members. Each and every query is addressed through an online board system and answered by its existing subscribers who get incentives in form of payback points which are converted to cash twice a year through PayPal or account credit. Members also post ideas that can improve its functionality, like when they suggested a method of shaping their SIM cards so as to fit the new iPhone 4 that required a micro sim. The entire business is dependent on its customers who are tasked to recommend other non-members and get paid per successful subscription.

It is evident that this is the easiest operator network to use, with no contracts and monthly flexible data plans that enable you to switch to tariffs, it is quite a good deal for the growing youth population. It seems to have fulfilled its manifesto of being simple and affordable.

3. Lycamobile

This is also a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) that is known for offering calls throughout international countries at a very low price. The mobile operator also offers unlimited data plans at 20pounds a month but it comes with speed restrictions and no tethering. The capping of the unlimited data starts after utilizing the first 9GB by reducing its speed to 128Kb/s. the data plan also allows European Union roaming, whose speed is capped after the first 6.75GB.

Lycamobile introduced its 4G network in 2014 which used the O2 network. Recently the management introduced Lycarewards loyalty program that allows the users to view adds and be gifted with free data bundle and an Amazon gift card for every like and dislike.

4. Virgin Mobiles * (Must be a Virgin TV and broadband customer for unlimited data)

Virgin mobile is one of the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in the world owned by the Virgin Media. It was launched in 1999 with a contract that allows EE to maintain its entire network infrastructure.

They have a unique technique where they allow customers to either choose a mobile number or bring their own custom made numbers that can include, birth dates, wedding dates and other important dates you would like to be used as your mobile number.

Virgin Mobile offers an unlimited data plan but with a twist. This data plan is exclusively available for virgin operators who have the Virgin TV and Virgin broadband. For those who meet these requirements, Virgin mobile offers them unlimited data that has 4G speed for only 25pounds a month and also give free calls to other Virgin numbers. The data plan can also be used for roaming in up to 43 EU countries with its speed capped after using the first 8.22GB. Virgin mobile does not bind its customers to any contracts and has pretty amazing flexible monthly plans. If you run out of data, Virgin mobile sends a friendly notification text every time you hit 75%, 95% and 100% mark.

You can also decide to pay 3pounds a day for every 1GB data you use. It also gives room for accessing higher tariffs and backing out anytime you feel like.

Virgin mobile has free Wi-Fi buddy app that comes in handy for those who are constantly moving around the continent, this app gives you access to unlimited free Wi-Fi across the UK and other locations abroad with more than 20million hotspots spanning across these locations.

The virgin mobile also has a 12month contract unlimited broadband deal that has no data caps, no hatchet and no rental of lines. The subscriber is required to pay an installation fee of 20 pounds and also a monthly fee of 53 pounds.

Virgin mobile offers a wide range of consumer products that carter for both the average data consumer and the data-hungry individuals. It tends to be very reliable with its 4G data plans despite the steep restrictions.

Other than those four cellular companies, there exist a huge number of network operators that offer data plans that are not necessarily unlimited but has a good budget. It will be wise to take a look at these companies and see what packages they have in store for their esteemed customers.

Not quite unlimited data providers

O2

This is one of the biggest telecommunication companies in the UK with at least 25million subscribers. It is rated as the company with the highest customer satisfaction in the UK. O2 offers 2G, 3G and 4th generation networks and currently testing 5G network with plans of launching it soon, they also offer broadband data plans as well as operating Wi-Fi services. It is also the backbone for virtual companies such as GiffGaff that has taken the telecommunication sector by storm.

For pay per monthly, O2 offers 50GB of data, 40GB data for SIM only and 20GB for Pay As You Go. All these data plans allow tethering and offer 4G speed. They also have big bundle tariffs that offer sleek deals such as for 10 pounds a month; you get 2GB which is 2G/3G/4G enabled, 250 minutes and 1000texts. For 15 pounds a month you will be awarded 5GB, 500 minutes and 1000texts. You can also get 6GB, 1000 minutes, 2000 texts for only 20 pounds with the biggest offer being 20GB with an additional 3000 minutes and 3000 texts. After exhaustion the allowance you will pay the standard rate 50MB for 1 pound a day.

They also have pay monthly SIM only deals which range from 1GB data 4G enabled, 1000minutes and unlimited texts at only 13 pounds a month up to 60GB of data, unlimited minutes and texts wit inclusive of free O2 Wi-Fi as well as O2 travel which can be used when roaming at no extra cost in 75 O2 destinations the USA included.

O2 Company also offers free O2 Wi-Fi that is both free and fast as it has hotspots at various locations inclusive of McDonald's and Costa Coffee making it very reliable. These O2 Wi-Fi works give and exact experience like with your home Wi-Fi only that this works when you are out and about. This package is not only meant for O2 customers alone but the population at large. All you have to do to access it if at all you are not an O2 subscriber is to accept receiving their offers; the best part is that you can opt out as soon as you wish. You will not need a username or password to access and this makes it very convenient.

EE

This is one of the biggest and fastest 4G network operators in the UK with its 4G network reaching up to 99% of the UK's population. Each and every data plan come with 4G services with no overhead cost. For the internet speed enthusiasts, EE offers 4G+ which gives double the speed 4G offers. Its 2G network covers 99 percent of the population but this is already on the rearview. It has pay monthly plans of up to 100GB of data, Pay As You Go plan of up to 16GB and SIM only of about 40GB all these have no restrictions and can be tethered, however, only 15GB allowances are available for roaming.

It has broadband services that offer data plans with up to 30GB limit. EE offers the highest download speed of 28.80Mbps. EE has also made advancements with the introduction of Wi-Fi calling that allows you to receive and make calls over the Wi-Fi even if there is no signal. The best part about this plan is that you don’t need an app for it but a Wi-Fi network and you are good to go.

It also allows Voice over LTE (VoLTE) which means you can make 4G calls from any of its locations. The biggest advantage of Voice over quality is that it has enhanced voiced quality.

Despite not offering unlimited data plans, EE has quite some good deals when it comes to its limited contract deals. It is also a good network for those whose priority is the network coverage.

Vodafone

Equipped with the advanced LTE that is faster than the ordinary 4G, Vodafone offers some of the interesting data plans. it has Pay on the Go SIM only data plan that offers 12months contract or 30days contract flexible data plans starting with a 12month contract of 2GB at only 11 pounds a month to 50GB at 30 pounds a month for a period of 1month.

It also has Pay As You Go that includes up to 20GB data as well as a mobile broadband plan that offers 50GB with a better speed than other networks.

FreedomPop

This is a service provider that uses the Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP), this means that it allows users to make calls and send texts through the internet. You have to pay an activation fee while signing up for FreedomPop. They only offer SIM only plans of up to 4G with a restriction that you can only tether if you subscribe to premium. It has recently announced that it will be giving free 200mbs to all the Brits who are subscribed to the network completely free of charge with intentions of convincing users to subscribe to pay for services.

iD Mobile

This is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) owned by Carphone warehouse utilizing Three’s network. It has pay monthly data plans of up to 10GB, SIM only of up to 20GB and Pay As You Go that only stretches to 4GB. The best thing about the plans is that it allows rollover which means that they transfer the unused data to the next month giving you enough time to utilize it. In addition, it has phone plans that have 24months contract with the data reaching a maximum 10GB as well as up to 15GB of data only that has either 1month contract or 24months contract. Each and every plan allows roaming in EU countries which are about 50 of them.

BT

BT is an MVNO utilizing the EE network, it offers the standard 4G network with its coverage spanning over 99% of the United Kingdom’s population. They tend to give a discount to those customers who either use BT broadband or BT TV. They offer monthly plans of up to 30GB, maximum of 40GB for SIM only plans and all these data can be tethered as well as roamed in at least 47 destinations abroad with some few exceptions like Somalia and Eritrea among others. For BT family, unlike other networks that allow families to share a single monthly allowance for BT family, each member with a SIM is given a pre-determined data allowance of either 2GB or 15GB. They also don’t allow different data limit for each member. The data limit is similar to every family member.

Tesco Mobile

It is also one of the Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) using O2’s network. They started offering 4G network in 2014. They offer to pay monthly data plans of up to 50GB and the same also applies to SIM only plans. The Pay As You Go plan has a minimum of 3GB going for 10 pounds and a maximum of 8GB going for 20 pounds. They don’t offer any broadband services.

Plusnet mobile

This network provider gives a good amount of data covering SIM only plans which offer up to 8GB, this data can be used both for tethering and roaming. It uses EE network meaning that it is 4G enabled. It also has broadband services with which if you have, they don’t deduct the 4GB from the 8GB

There are so many other network operators that offer different data deals that you may find suitable. You now have an insight on which network operators offer unlimited data services as well as the best offers available from the cellular network that don’t have unlimited data plans.

Do I really need unlimited data?
For most users the answer to this is no. Unless you are streaming hours of video and movies every day you are unlikely to need unlimited data.
To see how much data you use there are a number of ways to check.

  1. Check with your current mobile provider. This can normally be done online or they may have a app for this.
  2. You can do into the data settings on your phone and check to see how much data you have used.
  3. Download an app you measure the amount of data you use. My Data Manager is available free for both iPhone and Android

If you follow the above steps you will find the right data plan for your needs.