Three's unlimited data plan still means throttling, restricted use

Yesterday, Three made plenty of consumer-pleasing headlines by offering truly unlimited mobile data, after years of ambiguity from service providers who used the word 'unlimited' to mean something entirely different.

As part of their new One Plan tariff, customers can use their current mobile and sign up to unlimited data, 2,000 any-mobile minutes, 5,000 3-to-3 minutes and 5,000 texts for £25 a month. Better yet, the blog post that announced the deal stated "if you want to use your phone as a dongle (also known as tethering) then you absolutely can."

Perfect. Well, almost. Bitterwallet put in a call to Three's press office to ask about the issue raised by avid readers in the comments yesterday; surely Three will simply throttle usage to protect the network if customers get too greedy?

According to staff on Three's blog, that absolutely won't happen:

Bitterwallet - Three throttling customer data

Yet a spokesperson for Three told Bitterwallet there is a catch to their all-you-can-eat deal:

'The only caveat that Three has placed on the use of unlimited data, is that Three reserves the right to throttle or withhold usage in cases of illegal or non-personal usage.

'In a case where a customer is using their connection for file-sharing or other non-personal use, then it's likely that Three would act accordingly.'

So there are strings attached to the 'unlimited' headline and despite the promise of 'no restrictions', that doesn't seem to be strictly true. The average customer needn't worry about throttling or other action against them, but heavy users eyeing up the One Plan for P2P activity will want to think twice.


  • Alexis
    Just means no throttling now, but possibly in the future.
  • Brian
    To be honest, anyone who uses P2P over a mobile network deserves to be throttled.
  • -]
    Yeah, I'm totally against ISPs throttling/limiting home broadband connections that they advertise as limited but mobile networks are a completely different matter.
  • stustaff
    I dont get it!? Your headline 'Three’s unlimited data plan still means throttling, restricted use' is more misleading than what 3 have said! 3 state that there will be 'no throttling' and tethering is fine, they then ad the pretty obvious fact that if someone i doing something illegal or for business use(eg hosting a website or something) when its a personal account you have with them then they may take action. No where does it say that they will limit you for using Torrents! why would heavy users need to think twice? 3 have confirmed NO throttling! instead of heavy users did you mean people using their connection to do illegal stuff? and people trying to run a business off of it? This article is the kind of nonsense scare mongering that I report to Bitterwallet!
  • Ben
    agreed. This actually makes you guys look like idiots, rather than 3, who appear to be offering a really good deal (for a change) and trying to be clear as to the (fair and generous - again unexpectedly) terms. A shame.
  • Al
    I have to agree, this is making Bitterwallet look like you guys are just itching for comments or a fight where there is no opponent. The deal from Three is actually very good and the fact that is that you're getting unlimited bandwidth now for general purpose smartphone activity. For the 0.0001% of the population who are crazy enough to do stuff like hosting a web server off their mobile or download illegal material should be capped or withheld service. Every ISP has the right to offer unlimited download, but they can withhold service if you're downloading illegal material. Just because something is unlimited, doesnt mean the law no longer applies.
  • Mark P.
    Err.... how many people use torrents for legal file sharing then stustaff?? 3 says P2P activity will be throttled, and Bitter Wallet points out this wont affect most people?? 3 says this deal can be used for tethering, but loads of people use torrents and Bitter Wallet is saying people who do will be in trouble if they try. Not sure what the issue is???
  • Paul S.
    We contacted Three because a reader raised a point about throttling yesterday. Three stated that they will throttle or restrict services in instances of illegal, non-personal *and* file-sharing activity. The piece above is really quite clear - the average customer has nothing to worry about. However, plenty of people will be looking to this deal to provide a data connection at home, because Three have said that tethering isn't an issue; Al, I'm not sure what your experience of P2P file-sharing is, but there are way more people doing it than 1 in 10,000.
  • hippy
    i use torrents when and where i can for downloading images of linux operating systems and other large downloads in the FOSS scene. I really wish all manufacturers of computer hardware would use torrents for their driver files so i can get them faster than the usual 20kbps speed most seem to come down at. As for the article i don't see what the fuss is about. They have a right to throttle illegal activity on the network, and for non personal use too. Though what they class as non personal use is a mystery to me. Must be a slow news day like the bbc had when they said about some american politician dying a day or so ago, spent hours talking about him, but i dont think many people in this country even heard of the man.
  • Jimbo
    Those are standard caveats for most consumer ISP's, mobile or wired.
  • Stustaff
    Paul well now you jphave added the part about file sharing activities which is NOT in your original article AT ALL it makes much more sense! None of the quotes from three in the article mention file sharing at all!!! So how were we supposed to know three had mentioned that to you? If they did why have you edited threes quotes to remove mention of it? Legal wise I use file sharing for downloading the football manager demo, and Linux os images, it's far too unsecured for me to everuse it for illegal downloads! So what is it Paul do we believe the article which has three making no mention of file sharing! Or do we believe your comment which out of no where adds file sharing into the mix?
  • Paul S.
    Did you actually read the article before replying? Read Three's quote. The second sentence quite clearly says: ‘In a case where a customer is using their connection for file-sharing or other non-personal use, then it’s likely that Three would act accordingly.’
  • Marky w.
    Hey guys, I want you all to know I am on "the one plan" and now that I have exceeded 1 gig data usage my speeds have been cut down to dial up, its a joke! I phoned three and demand they sort it but they say they don't throttle the one plan, just to check I even used my pay as you go Three sim in the phone and, surprise surprise my speeds were fine. They are DEFINITELY throttling speeds, and denying on the Three Blog that it happens.....not happy at all...
  • andyroo
    i too have used 1gb and i cant even stream a radio station at 128k, i used to use this up to 2g with my internet texter, never slowed it down once. in this case i have used it for my personal use to listen to a radio station amongst other things, i am now being penalised for something that was never an issue. goodbye three , three months contract left! you know i wouldnt be all that bothered but when i asked the question, what happens if you download a lot, they said "nothing, its a truly inlimited service" and there is no issue.If it isnt, at least have the balls to tell your customers.
  • Jmate
    So is this throttled when you reach 1gb ? 3 I imagine say no ? I guess one way to test this is to use say on a sunday morning at start of billing cycle, use over 1gb of data, then towards the end use at same time sunday morning and see if theres some obvoius difference? I won't be happy if this is true. . . I rarely use over one gb but I've just upgraded to this plan for £5 more as it seemed stupid not to so meh!!
  • andyroo
    @Jmate if you rarely go over 1gb, then for you this is a non issue.
  • x
    I have been using bittorent with this plan and it works fine
  • Scott
    this annoys me, the only reason for truly unlimited data is for file sharing, who downloads 10-15 gb (and thats a small number for me) of data LEGALLY???
  • simon
    It was yesterday I called 3 about my connection , informing them that I get limited or no connectivity at all , the answer to this was simple and successful ! Successful for 20mins that is . He told me to FACTORY RESET my phone(this will delete all data on your phone but not you SD). And of course the first thing I did after this was hook the phone up to my p.c. and start watching TV at 300kbps it was good but after 20 min....... PLOP right down to nothing , not even a web page was fast . In fact I'd like to ask you all to do something for me please ??????? Could you all check your last bill from three and look at your DATA USAGE!! mine for the past 3 months has said 40000MB USED 39000MB OVER And yes I too am on this ONE PLAN . Please do this for me ! Coz its a huge contradict . Kind regards Simon.
  • James
    There is definitely something odd happening on the One Plan. I have a Three 15 gigabytes per month data contract for my iPad 2, and consistently get speeds in excess of 2.5Mbps day and night. However, on the One Plan, I only seem able to get similar speeds first thing in the morning. I am using the same speed tests on each ( using the same server and from the same place. A few minutes ago (1pm on a Sunday), my iPad downloaded at 2.73Mbps, whereas the iPhone 4 on the One Plan, sitting next to it and using the same network, was 0.53Mbps. I repeated the test several times and the speeds stayed much the same on each. I have only just started my One Plan contract, so there is no way that I have exceeded any arbitrary maximum, and I do not use P2P services. So - what is going on?
  • Andy
    I've spent all day downloading a legitimate piece of software using my tethered iPhone on Three's "One Plan". This is a large file (3.3Gb), so I expected it to take some time. All day I was seeing download speeds of between 110kB/s (minimum) and 240kB/s, until exactly 17:00 when my download rate crashed down to around 3kB/s. I monitored it for a while before phoning Three to find out what was going on. I was told over the phone, that it was purely down to how many people were downloading that file at the same time, and nothing to do with throttling or traffic shaping. He also informed me that I should not be using the "One Plan" to download any kind of files, as it is only intended for basic web browsing. (Unlimited?????) I'm not one to be fobbed off, and having spent all day downloading 80% of a file, I was not about to start again tomorrow. I paused my download, set up a VPN to a server in North America, and clicked resume. What do you know? All of a sudden, I have a 100kB/s download speed again. Three not throttling? Yeah... cheers.
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  • Ha77man
    It seems they are throttling. If you are constantly Downloading big files from a same website then they will slow your download speeds down. I was getting 400 - 500kbps overnight and now only 5kbps.
    hi all i have just come out the other-side of a long battle with three and in essence won ! i must make it clear in no way have i been misusing my pay as you go account (all you can eat ) data plan i use large amounts of data and and started to find i was getting slower and slower speeds. even at 2.30 am that i get up for work my speed went to 0.40 mbs from the 4-5 mbs i was enjoying . the data throuput at my work place via a three mast was at first was giving me 6.8mbs. three C/S told me the same old rubbish that there is nothing wrong blah blah blah must be my fault poor signal the usual stuff BUT ! after a very long and i mean very long chat with IT support we chatted in lingo we both understood . i had done my homework and challenged what the man was saying to me and he went over all of my data use from the 1st of jan 2012 until that day . he told me you are a high data user and was doing around 20-30 GB of data per month . i said to him ( i strongly believe that my data is being throttled in contradiction of three,s policy . the guy just from his reaction and the evidence i presented to him i could tell he new exactly what i was on about and his tone changed into wanting to end the call . i told him i have been making logs of radon data use and connection speeds masts used and a analysis of all the information obtained across 8 masts oh and freedom of information act and data monitoring tool that showed throttling . he seemed quite shocked that i could gain the information i was telling him. i was very straight with him and told him i do not intend to keep being punished for using (all you can eat data ) if it is really that then don't stop me if not call it the (ALL YOU CAN NOT USE POLICY ) And if my data is not put back to full use at the fully obtainable speed and no throttling i will go public and share my findings with all who will listen to me !. even if you guys still deny it im sure it will affect your sales and your competitors I.E( GIFF GAFF ) will take full advantage of it . i not trying to blackmail you ! i just want what is being advertised to all . after being put on hold for 10 mins he came back to me with. ok i will see what i can do thank-you and goodbye . the call ended . as of 10th feb my speeds are back up to what they were and buffering is no longer happening . i have not gone into great detail about what i have used or tools i have used purely for selfish reasons that i want go into but i work in IT . but what i would say is this dont be fobbed off by any mobile provider they do throttle speeds its just the majority of pepole dont know how to challenge this but the more who fight about this topic the more power you guys to change this .
  • Simon B.
    Hello MAILROOMMAN I believe that three have just started throttling me as of last night 25th May 2012. I'm so sure of it, my next door neighbor and college at work are on Three and they easy hit 3.5mbps at work and I average 20GB per month. 6mbps at home I'm at 00.02mbps Ive complained over the phone and still super slow.
  • ToldUso
    3 have introduced Trafficsense and it throttles the top 5% of data users with a punitive 7 days of very slow service. Details are on their website in the support section. P2P activity is throttled for all 3 users during peak periods (15:00 - 00:00 daily). So Bitter Wallet were right to be cautious about AYCE. It simply was not possible to sustain it with limited radio bandwidth.

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