3 offers truly unlimited data, Orange and t-Mobile consider restrictions

everythingeverywhereMobile service providers have long since used smoke and mirrors concerning data tariffs and usage; their inexplicable ability to redefine the meaning of 'unlimited' has caused confusion and upset amongst consumers for years, with regulators and ombudsmen doing little to curb the practice until recently.

What might be the next trick be to entice customers over to a particular service? Well, there are two possible extremes for the future for mobile data tariffs - and news of both is playing out today.

Everything Everywhere, parent company of terrible twosome Orange and T-Mobile have told consumer champs Which! that they're not opposed to the possibility of restricting particular types of content, such as streaming video.

The company stressed it's not currently considering tariffs that would band types of media consumption together and restrict them, but also that it doesn't want the possibility restricted in the future. If mobile tariffs were to be steered in that direction, it may mean budget contracts for users happy to make do without streaming media, and premium prices for those that wanted access to YouTube or iPlayer.

By making the operators the gatekeepers of what websites and platforms can and can't be used, consumers are effectively agreeing to have their service moderated. Where would the line be drawn - is low-quality and high-quality streaming bunched together? What about audio, or mobile gaming? A broader issue is that if service providers are clear about their data limits and charges for excess usage from the beginning, then everyone - provider and consumer - knows where they stand.

Bitterwallet - Three logoThat final point brings us to today's other news which concerns Three. They are promising unlimited data - as in the textbook definition of the word - as part of their new One Plan tariff; use your current mobile, and you can sign up to 2,000 any-mobile minutes, 5,000 3-to-3 minutes and 5,000 texts for £25 a month.

The 1GB limit has been lifted and it seems that Three really don't care what you use your mobile for:

We’re leaving behind the ‘old mobile’ world of limits and allowances in favour of a new world that gives you the freedom to use your smartphone to do everything it was designed for without the worry of cost.

Our new world has no data restrictions, you can use as much as you want and we’ll never charge you a penny more.

If you’ve been to all-you-can-eat restaurants before, you’ll already be familiar how this works. You pay once, you get as much as you want the first time round, and you can still keep coming back for more. And yes, if you want to use your phone as a dongle (also known as tethering) then you absolutely can.

Three are also advising customers that if they're currently paying for any data bolt-ons to increase their current data limit, these can be cancelled with thirty days notice.


  • Alex B.
    So whilst you can use as much as you want it's of absolutely no use to anyone if you cannot get a signal. And if you are lucky enough to get a signal it will now be thrashed by everyone downloading 24 / 7.
  • AlanC
    Sounds Great :) I recently tried out the WiFi access point on the Nexus One which allows my phone to act as a wireless access point and use the 3G signal to access the internet. Got 2.2Mb down and 1Mb up and that was with 3 laptops connect to it. Lets just hope that their network can handle the surge in traffic :)
  • Matt
    I moved to 3 from 02... thought I'd be taking a gamble with signal but it's worked an absolute treat. I even got 3G signal in deepest darkest Wales on holiday- when my brother in law got nothing (Orange) and neither did my sister in law (Vodaphone). I'm really happy with the service too. Bonus.
  • Tim
    Just means they'll do like other ISPs when challenged about their definition of "unlimited". They'll just throttle instead. Yes you can download as much as you want, but with limited speeds if it's causing their network to groan under the strain and they are too tight to invest in better infrastructure.
  • Dan
    Great idea, but doesn't seem to be available on the iPhone, where you'd need it the most! Aslo I cannot get a signal anymore and recently got released early from my 3 contract so not much use to me.
  • Jax
    And once they have enough customers under their belt.... "due to a small but significant minority of users who are overloading the network, we have had to reintroduce a fair usage policy".... enjoy it while it lasts though!
  • Mistermarsh
    My understanding is that mobile phone companies are being forced to share masts as of April next year in the uk ?? My contract is up in a few weeks time so whilst they all fight it out I'm going to get a monthly renewable contract as 18 and 24 months is a long time and a lot can change..if more people did this they would all have to sort it out or very quickly lose custom..I looked at Vodaphone tariffs and was told if I went over the 1GB allowance I'd be billed £2 a mg over..I laughed and walked out..this is 2010 not 1997..do your homework first
  • BT B.
    [...] hadn’t dismissed the idea of offering consumers a ‘two tier’ service, with customers having to pay more to receive particular types of content. It seems BT are already [...]
  • Three B.
    [...] plenty of noise a few months ago, when announcing that smartphones on their pay-monthly contracts would have uncapped data allowances – in a world where every other provider was restricting it. Of course it wasn’t [...]

What do you think?

Your comment