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Unlimited mobile broadband - What options are available?

Unlimited mobile broadband

You can eat up a lot more data with a tablet, dongle or mobile WiFi device than you’re likely to with a smartphone, so having an unlimited data allowance could be appealing.

With that in mind we’ve taken a look at exactly how much data each network offers with Data Only SIMs, whether there are any other ways to get unlimited data on your mobile broadband device, and whether you even need unlimited data in the first place.

What is the maximum data on each operator?

The most data you can get on any Data Only plan currently is 50GB with Vodafone. Three will give you up to 40GB, EE tops out at 30GB, O2 offers 20GB, iD Mobile gives you up to 15GB (when bought with a mobile broadband device), Virgin Mobile gives you up to 10GB, and you’ll get up to 6GB with Asda Mobile, Lycamobile and The People’s Operator.

Giffgaff only offers 500MB and the remaining networks have no Data Only plans.


Maximum data









iD Mobile


Virgin Mobile


Asda Mobile




The People’s Operator




BT Mobile, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile, Smarty, VOXI, Plusnet Mobile or FreedomPop don't offer any mobile broadband plans.

Can I use an unlimited SIM for phones in a tablet or dongle?

No. Only Three and Giffgaff offer unlimited data phone SIMs and neither allow this. Three won’t let you use any phone SIM in a tablet or dongle, and while Giffgaff will it won’t allow you to use one with unlimited data.

Other networks don’t offer unlimited data, but some will allow you to use your phone SIM in a tablet or dongle.

Vodafone will, as will EE, O2, BT Mobile, FreedomPop, VOXI and Sky Mobile.

iD Mobile, SMARTY, Plusnet, Virgin Mobile, Lycamobile, Tesco Mobile, The People’s Operator and Asda Mobile seemingly have no information on whether their phone SIMs work in tablets and MiFi devices.

Note also that even the networks where this should work could change their minds, so it’s always worth checking before buying a SIM card.

Can I use tethering (personal hotspot) to share unlimited data to my dongle or tablet?

No. As noted above only Three and Giffgaff offer unlimited data phone SIMs and while you can tether with them there are restrictions. Three limits you to a 30GB tethering allowance, while Giffgaff is even more restrictive, topping out at 6GB.

In fact, if you want the most data possible for tethering you’re actually better off with EE or Vodafone, both of which have allowances with up to 60GB of data and let you use all of it for tethering. O2 with 50GB also works out better.

Do I really need unlimited data?

The answer in general will be no – which is a good thing too, since you can’t currently get it with mobile broadband.

If you’re using mobile broadband instead of Wi-Fi at all times then you may eat through 30GB+ of data every month, and if you’re also heavily using it for streaming video and the like then in that case unlimited data might be helpful.

But if you’re only using it as it’s designed – which is for when you’re out and about, travelling, or having short-term Wi-Fi issues, then even if you use mobile broadband heavily with multiple devices connected you should be fine with the 50GB maximum that it’s possible to get.

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