The best mobile data deals for different customers
With service providers frequently altering their offers and, even worse, their terms and conditions, selecting the right plan can prove problematic. To help you decide, here’s the list of our top five data deals devised for a range of different users.
ALL-ROUND DATA HOG
Tariff: 3’s The One Plan
Price: From £25 per month
A relatively small network with large expanses of rural Britain not fully covered, 3’s network was built with data in mind, and it regularly wins awards for speed and service.
It’s also the last “big” network offering genuinely unlimited data. The company says users could experience a maximum of 5.6Mbits/sec, although that’s likely to be much less in practice, but the freedom to tether your laptop to your smartphone is another plus, and the 2,000 minutes of calls will come in handy too.
Tariff: Vodafone Data Traveller
Price: From £2 a day
Data: 25MB per day
Although Abroadband’s standalone data pricing is hard to beat, it lacks voice calls. Vodafone’s Data Traveller packages are relatively keenly priced, and you can sign up on your existing contract.
Make sure you register in advance, though, as non-Data Traveller traffic costs £1 per MB. The allowance drops to only 5MB in non-EU European countries, and there’s no deal at all outside Europe, where data costs £3 per MB.
Anyone on a Vodafone plan that costs more than £40 a month gets the Data Traveller service for free.
Price: €20, then €0.59 per MB
Data: Flat rate
A refreshingly simple data plan for mobile roaming, abroadband charges a flat fee no matter which country you visit.
There are no voice connections or a mobile number – although Skype is available – but the company offers cheap data in 128KB chunks. SIM and micro-SIM cards cost €20, after which it’s €0.59 per MB.
Its rivals’ pricing in Europe is getting better, but abroadband really comes into its own further afield. Its charges checker claims Orange charges €9.39 per MB of data in the US, while T-Mobile charges €8.80 per MB in Malaysia.
Price: From £10
With kids connected at the wrist to their Facebook accounts, and hungry for data-heavy services such as streaming music and video, unwary parents could find themselves bailing out their offspring.
GiffGaff, a virtual provider running over O2’s network, offers a pay-as-you-go deal that should satisfy most teens. The £10 “goody bag” includes 250 UK minutes, unlimited texts and unlimited data.
You need to apply for a free SIM card, and the only significant small print seems to be a restriction on tethering and automated web use.
Tariff: 3’s Mobile Broadband
Price: £15.99 (24-month contract)
Painful as it is to include two deals from one company, 3’s mobile broadband offering is so much cheaper than its rivals (20 times cheaper than Orange, according to broadbandchoices.co.uk) that anyone looking to plug a dongle into a laptop and use proper software would be spiting themselves by looking elsewhere.
The 24-month contract includes a 3G dongle and SIM card and, at £15.99 for 15GB, it offers data at near-landline prices. Don’t breach the 15GB cap, though: additional data costs 10.2p per MB.