3G Plans in the UK
In order to connect to the Internet, iPad users must sign up with one of the major U.K. data plan providers. The top companies are T-Mobile, Orange and Vodafone, though Three and O2 are struggling to stay active competitors. Orange and Vodafone are larger companies and thus are available throughout all of Europe. However, Three and O2 are holding their own. T-Mobile is now owned by AT&T.
Data Plans for U.K. Customers
Company Sim Only? Wi-Fi? Max Data Price Range
|Orange||yes||On Some Plans||10GB||
|Vodafone||On Some Plans||5GB||7-25.53 GBP/Mo|
|Three||On some plans||10 GB||7.50-20.99 GBP/Mo|
|T-Mobile||yes||On some plans||1 GB||
The Orange Company proudly states that its coverage extends to 93% of the English population. There are four major plans for U.K. Orange service:
- iPad SIM Only plan
- iPad Daily
- iPad Weekly
- iPad Monthly
- iPad Monthly 25
The SIM Only play is a simple, pay-for-what-you-use data plan, and costs 5.1p per MB. However, there is a cap at 40 pounds per month. SIM only plans are popular among users that don’t want network restrictions and want total flexibility. The daily plan offers 200MB for one day’s time and costs two pounds. The iPad weekly provides 1GB of allowance for a week for seven and a half poounds. The iPad Monthly 15 offers 3GB and unlimited access BT Openzone WiFi, which is great for coffee shop surfers. As the title implies, this only costs 15 pounds a month. The 25 pound a month option offers up to 10GB per month and unlimited Openzone WiFi, which is a respectably more powerful connection.
Vodafone offers access to its “dependable and award-winning network”, and promotes its no long-term contract deal. Vodafone is obviously cheaper than Orange, offering plans as low as three pounds a month. Bandwidth plan options are:
- 250MB of bandwidth. (3 pounds)
- 500MB a month (seven pounds),
- 1GB a month (10.21 pounds), 2GB a month (15 pounds),
- 3GB a month (15.32 pounds)
- 5GB a month (25.53)
Another competitor worth mentioning is Three. This data plan provider offers plans that are somewhere in between our two former examples. Plan options include:
- 1GB rolling contract for 7.50 pounds per month
- 10GB contract for 15 pounds per month.
The company also offers pay as you go options
- 1GB costs 10.49 for 30 days.
- 3GB costs 20.99 for a period of three months.
The company excitedly points to the fact that YouGov voted it the best provider in the U.K. for speed and reliability.
There is also O2, which has a range of plans for selective users. For a pay as you go option, the company offers 200MB for 2.04 pounds on, or customers can choose a recurring contract for bandwidth up to 2GB for 15.32 pounds. A 1GB contract only costs 10.21. All of these data plans come with unlimited WI-FI.
It’s hard to imagine GB in terms of actual user experience, so the company does a swell job of breaking it down. The most basic plan gives you 2,000 pages to browse, 40 songs (or four albums) and up to 25 minutes of video footage. On the other end of the spectrum, the fastest connection gives you 20,000 pages to browse, 400 songs or 40 albums, and four hours of video footage.
T-Mobile offers iPad products as well as SIMs and data plans. T-Mobile is solid financially speaking, because of its affiliation with AT&T, and has recently won the “Fairest Pricing and Customer Satisfaction” award at the Broadband Expert Awards. This company offers 250 MB per day for two pounds, 500MB per week for seven pounds, and one GB per month for 15 pounds.
Comparisons and an Editorial Selection
O2 is the cheapest option, though its 3GB plan is not a disappointment for intermediate web users. T-Mobile offers an identical low-cost plan, as does Orange. However, the Orange Company provides the most powerful user experience with its 10GB.
As Geeky-Gadgets.com and Which.co.uk confirm, only Orange and Three go all the way with 10GB, though to Three’s credit, it wallops Orange on price. The magazine Pocket-link.co.uk provides some insight into the quality of service beyond industry awards. It suggests that O2 and Vodafone data plans are primarily for new users or business owners but that Orange appeals to younger and more web-savvy audiences.
MobileUsers.net brings up an interesting point in comparing Three and Orange; Three has 9,192 coverage sites in comparison to Orange’s 7,500 coverage sites. Even O2 beats Orange in terms of coverage. This gives the smaller Three Company an advantage over Orange, at least locally speaking.