There are still some excellent 3G options to be had that are SIM only. The choice to purchase the SIM separately and move between networks is a useful option to have when a smartphone or tablet owner comes to the end of their existing contract period.
Here are a few of the better 3G data SIM only plans that UK mobile phone providers currently offer.
Virgin Media is, of course, a brand of the Sir Richard Branson. Seamlessly expanding into new fields all the time, it makes sense that Virgin would be involved in mobile networks too. They already provide cable TV, broadband internet and landlines to the home under the Virgin Media company.
In this case, Virgin Media is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator which uses the EE 3G network to provide its service. A Standard SIM is used to access their network. Virgin asks the customer to accept a one month contract which isn’t too erroneous.
One of their more popular plans is the 2GB of data, unlimited call minutes and SMS texts one for £12.00 per month. A much smaller 3G plan includes 500MB of data, 1250 calling minutes and unlimited SMS texts for £8.00.
The company actually has SIM only plans that are pay as you go, monthly payment and tablet only specials. And, the 3G network with EE has one of the widest network coverages possible.
The People’s Operator
The People’s Operator is another Mobile Virtual Network Operator which also uses the existing EE 3G network to provide their service. A Standard SIM is used to access their network. This company aims to be more ethical and donates 10% of the payment to a charity of the customer’s choosing.
Currently they offer a £2.99 monthly deal for the first two months which then rises steeply to £14.99 thereafter. The plan is a one month contract period. This plan includes 6GB of 3G data with unlimited call minutes and unlimited SMS texts. There is also a cheaper £11.99 3G plan which includes 4GB of data, 1000 minutes and unlimited SMS texts.
GiffGaff is a younger network having only been started in 2009. The company is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator which uses the O2 3G network to operate; a Standard SIM is used to access the network. The company has a particular focus on no contract plans and no credit checks as a result, so their service appeals to no fuss consumers.
Their entry-level plan priced at just £10.00 includes 1GB of data, 500 calling minutes and unlimited SMS texts. A 3GB data plan has 500 calling minutes and unlimited SMS texts for £12.00.
The 3 company has an excellent 3G network. They have plenty of SIM only, no contract options.
Their basic SIM only data and call plans include a 1GB data allowance with 600 calling minutes and unlimited SMS texts for £14 and a 4GB data allowance with 600 calling minutes and unlimited SMS texts for £19 per month.
There are also several nano or micro SIM options aimed at tablet owners who only use data and can accept the one month contract terms. These are 1GB and 10GB data plans for either £7.50 or £15. The latter is a great deal.
For tablet owners who either do not own a smartphone or want to have separate coverage on a different network for their tablet as a redundant coverage fall-back, then the 1GB plan for just over a tenner a month is a good deal.
There are also 3G pay as you go data only plans for £10.49 or £20.49 for 1GB or 3GB respectively that initially last 30 days.
The danger with the Virgin Media 3G service is that they have so many other services that they offer under the Virgin Media umbrella that one can get lost. Just navigating through their website to discover what plans they have illustrates this point. Most of the bandwidth packages tend to be smaller, but the prices don’t rise far past £10.
The People’s Operator feels a little better with higher data plan allowances, using the same EE network as Virgin does, and it donates 10% to charity which might appeal.
GiffGaff is an interesting choice. It uses the O2 3G network instead of the EE one. There are no contracts or credit checks. The data allowances are also a little on the skimpy side, but for people who don’t use the net too much while on the move, this one could be a good choice.
Lastly, the 3 network offers its own network directly which has its plus points. If something goes wrong, you’re more likely to get an accurate estimate of how long it’ll take to fix. There are some solid 3G plans including data only tablet ones. The prices are highly competitive and there is even a data only 10GB data allowance plan. The 3 network seems to offer enough choices to have something for everyone whilst not being too pricey either. It gets our vote.