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Which networks offer unlimited data?

14th March 2019

There are currently five networks which offer unlimited data in the UK, which are Three, GiffGaff, Lycamobile, Smarty and Virgin Mobile. 

All of these operators have some form of restriction, so it makes sense to get fully up to speed with the ins and outs of unlimited internet data packages.

Unlimited data is great because you never need to worry about overspending or running out of data as you endlessly use up gigaloads of the stuff.

1. Three

Unlimited data at maximum speeds

Three offers truly unlimited data on SIM Only, Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go phone plans, which all come with 4G at no extra cost. The network doesn't cap download speeds, there isn't a usage limit and you can tether as much data as you like. Three also offers a 4G+ service in some regions, giving it a speed advantage over many networks.

Pay Monthly Unlimited Data Plans

Three SIM Card

12 Month Contract

Unlimited data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£20 a month

View Deal

Three SIM Card

1 Month Contract

Unlimited data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£29 a month

View Deal

Both plans include Unlimited Tethering, Go Binge, Worldwide Roaming and Wuntu

Pay As You Go Unlimited Data Add-on

Three SIM Card

Pay As You Go

Unlimited data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£35 a month

View Deal

Includes Unlimited Tethering, Worldwide Roaming and free 1 month subscription to Headspace, Hayu, Xbox Game Pass, Rakuten TV, Tinder or Deliveroo

You can also use up to 19GB data when roaming in 71 Go Roam locations across the world at no extra cost (or 12GB if used outside Europe). Unless you’re on Pay As You Go, in which case the limits are 15GB/12GB for Europe and beyond respectively. Any data used on Go Binge (a service which lets you stream certain content without it coming out of your data allowance) will come out of your roaming allowance when in Europe. It won't come out of your roaming allowance when further afield, but if you’ve already reached that limit then you may not be able to access Go Binge.

Pay As Go plans don't include Go Binge, so that's worth considering when choosing a plan.

Three also offers Mobile Broadband plans, but these generally aren't available with unlimited data and instead come with a maximum of 40GB of data. The exception is MiFi plans (as opposed to tablet or SIM plans), as these can come with unlimited data.

2. Smarty

Smarty has introduced a new unlimited data plan, which comes with no speed or tethering restrictions. It's a 1 month rolling plan that comes with 4G included and roaming in the EU, although data is limited to 19GB per month when roaming.

Smarty Unlimited SIM Plan
Smarty SIM Card

Unlimited data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£25 a month

+ Free £20 Amazon Voucher

View Deal

Currently, Smarty only offers SIM only plans so no unlimited Pay Monthly phones or Mobile Broadband plans are available.

3. Giffgaff

Unlimited data with speed restrictions

Giffgaff offers an unlimited data goodybag (add-on), which can be purchased with SIM Only or a mobile phone.

GiffGaff Unlimited Goodybag
GiffGaff Unlimited SIM

Unlimited data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£25 a month

View Deal

There are some restrictions, with only the first 20GB of use per month being at full 4G speeds. After that speeds are capped at 384kbps between 8am and midnight, which is quite slow.

Tethering and roaming are also capped at 20GB per month and the only way to use your data beyond the EU is to pay for the roaming data separately (which generally costs 20p per megabyte).

4. Lycamobile

Unlimited data with speed restrictions and no tethering

Lycamobile Unlimited Data SIM
LycaMobile Unlimited SIM

Unlimited data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£20 a month

View Deal

Lycamobile has launched an unlimited data plan which costs £20 per month and also gives you unlimited minutes and texts.

Speeds are capped after the first 9GB of usage per month to just 128kb/sec, which is only around 5-10% of normal 4G speeds. You also can’t tether on Lycamobile.

5. Virgin Mobile

Unlimited data for existing Virgin Media customers

Virgin Mobile Unlimited Data Plan (for Virgin TV or Broadband customers only)
Virgin Unlimited SIM

Unlimited data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£27 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile also offers unlimited data, but only to customers who have Virgin TV or Virgin Broadband.

That makes it quite restrictive, but if you fit into that camp then it is truly unlimited and at 4G speeds, and you can get it for £27 per month on SIM Only or at various prices on Pay Monthly.

Remarkably, you also get unlimited data for tethering – or at least, according to a customer service agent we spoke to you do, however at the time of writing there’s no confirmation of this on Virgin Mobile’s website.

However, unlimited data isn’t available on mobile broadband plans. There are also restrictions when roaming, with you currently capped at 11.28GB in the EU if you’re on SIM Only. This cap changes though, so for an up to date figure, use Virgin Mobile’s fair use calculator.

What about the other UK networks?

The other UK networks currently don't offer unlimited data. However, many do have high data limits (as high as 100GB), the full details are displayed below.

UK Networks Maximum Data Allowances

Operator

Max data

Tethering

Roaming

EE

100GB

100GB

15GB

O2

100GB

100GB

100GB

Vodafone

100GB

100GB

100GB

iD Mobile

30GB

30GB

30GB

BT

60GB

40GB

15GB

FreedomPop

4GB

4GB

N/A

Plusnet Mobile

8GB

8GB

8GB

Sky Mobile

20GB

20GB

20GB

Tesco Mobile

50GB

50GB

50GB

Asda Mobile

15GB

15GB

15GB

Voxi

45GB

45GB

45GB

Lebara Mobile 12GB 12GB

12GB

Ctrl Mobile 2GB 2GB

2GB

EE

EE

EE’s Pay Monthly plans top out at 100GB of data, while SIM Only offers a maximum of 60GB and on Pay As You Go you can get bundles of up to 16GB.

There are no restrictions on its general use, or on its use when tethering, however you can only use up to 15GB for roaming.

EE also offers mobile broadband plans with data limits that max out at 50GB.

While you can’t get unlimited data on EE, one advantage of it is high speeds, with double speed and 4G+ services on some plans.

O2

o2

O2 offers up to 100GB of data on Pay Monthly and up to 50GB on SIM Only, while you can get 20GB bundles usually with current offers of up to 70GB on Pay As You Go, all of which can be used for tethering or roaming.

O2 also offers mobile broadband plans with up to 50GB of monthly data.

O2 only offers standard 4G speeds.

Vodafone

Vodafone

Vodafone’s Pay Monthly plans come with up to 100GB of data, while SIM Only comes with up to 100GB and Pay As You Go includes up to 20GB, all of which can be used for tethering or roaming.

Vodafone also has mobile broadband plans with up to 50GB of data and has a speed advantage over most networks in some areas, as it has partial UK coverage with LTE Advanced, which is far faster than normal 4G.

iD Mobile

iD Mobile

iD Mobile offers a range of plans on Pay Monthly or SIM Only, topping out at 10GB of data on Pay Monthly and 20GB on SIM Only (temporarily boosted to 30GB), while Pay As You Go comes with up to 4GB.

However, while you get 4G speeds as standard this is just normal 4G. Note also that there are restrictions to data use when roaming which vary based on your usual data limit and how much you pay each month. You can find a guide to these here.

BT

BT Mobile

BT has Pay Monthly plans with up to 60GB of data and SIM Only ones with up to 40GB. It also has data-only plans with up to 30GB. The network doesn’t offer any Pay As You Go plans. You can use all of your data for tethering or roaming. However, if you use more than 15GB per billing cycle while roaming, a surcharge may be applied.

BT also has an Extra Speed service, giving you twice the speed of standard 4G.

FreedomPop

Freedom Pop

FreedomPop has a range of SIM Only plans offering up to 4GB of data. You can use this data to tether if you also subscribe to its Premier service.

The network doesn’t currently offer any Pay Monthly, Pay As You Go or mobile broadband plans, and you can’t roam on any of its current plans. All plans come with 4G speeds as standard.

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet Mobile only has SIM Only plans and these come with up to 8GB of data (though it tops out at 4GB if you’re not a Plusnet broadband customer). You can use any or all of this for tethering or for roaming. 4G is included as standard.

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile offers both Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans and these include up to 20GB of monthly data. You can also get up to 20GB of data with a tablet. You can use as much of this as you want for tethering or roaming. Sky Mobile offers standard 4G speeds.

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile gives you up to 50GB of data on Pay Monthly and 50GB on SIM Only plans, and you can use as much as you want for tethering.

You can also get Pay As You Go bundles with up to 8GB of data, but there aren’t any mobile broadband plans. 4G data is included as standard, as is free EU roaming.

Asda Mobile

Asda Mobile

Asda Mobile’s SIM Only plans come with up to 15GB of data, all of which can be used for tethering. You can also get up to 6GB of data on a data only plan, or you can Pay As You Go.

The network offers standard 4G speeds and provides free EU roaming.

Voxi

Voxi offers SIM Only and phone plans and they come with up to 45GB of data, any or all of which can be used for tethering or EU roaming.

The main limitation of Voxi is that you have to be under 30 to use the network.

Lebara Mobile

Lebara Mobile offers SIM Only plans with up to 12GB of 4G data, while Data Only plans come with up to 2GB. You can use as much of your data as you want for tethering and you can also roam at no extra cost in the EU, but there your data is in many cases restricted, though the exact amount you can use will depend on your plan.

Ctrl Mobile

Ctrl Mobile briefly offered an unlimited data plan, but at the time of writing its plans top out at just 2GB. However, this can all be used for tethering or roaming.

Do I need unlimited data?

That’s the big question, and the answer in most cases is no. If you’re streaming multiple hours of video each day over mobile data, or using mobile data to download movies, games or lots of music then you might, but even most quite heavy users should be fine on 10GB or less and lighter users can often get by on just 2 or 3GB of data.

The easiest way to be sure is to look at how much data you’re using each month on your current plan, then move to a plan that gives you slightly more than that.

Conclusion - Which network offers the best unlimited data plan?

Three, Smarty, Lycamobile, Virgin Mobile and GiffGaff are the only UK operators offering unlimited data. Three is currently the best option for those looking for unlimited data because it doesn't limit download speeds and has no restrictions on tethering. However, Virgin is a close second for those already with Virgin TV or broadband, as it has no tethering restrictions either.

Summary

Operator

Unlimited data

Restrictions

Tethering

Roaming

Three

Yes

Fair Usage

Unlimited

19GB

Smarty

Yes

Fair Usage

Unlimited 19GB

Giffgaff

Yes

Reduced speed after 20GB usage

20GB

20GB

Lycamobile

Yes

Reduced speed after 9GB usage

N/A

9GB

Virgin Mobile

Yes

Only available to Virgin Media customers

Unlimited

11.28GB

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