3 launches £0 a month contract - how does that work, exactly?

15 June 2009

A £0 a month contract may seem like an oxymoron, but that's not stopping our favourite mobile service provider 3 giving it a go. 3 SIM Zero will be the UK’s first £0 a month contract, with a minimum contract of just one month.

So what do you get for this headline-busting deal? Nothing, in a word. There's no free handset to choose from, no inclusive minutes, no free texts and no data bolted on the side. Instead what you get is unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls, free instant messaging and free voicemail. The deal is available from 3 on Wednesday.

Of course, the cynic in us would suggest that 3 are being far from altruistic with their offer. While it might be worth the hassle of taking this deal for a second phone - assuming you've both a spare handset and the majority of your contacts available on Skype - it's clearly not a deal for every day use. That's where 3 will rake in the money - normal mobile calls cost 20p a minute and texts cost 10p each. And because you'll need a 3G handset, you're going to be more than tempted to use data services, which will cost 30 pence per MB.

Plenty of people will be lured in by the zero monthly fee, but it's in no way a replacement for a standard contract with inclusive minutes, texts and data. This is a deal that'll only be useful to a tiny minority of customers, but you can bet it won't be marketed in that way.


  • Deepz
    If you are going to use more than 75 minutes then you are better off going on contract. If you get this, 75min = £15 OR you could go on a £15/month contract and get 300mix/match and a free phone on a 6 month contract. However - this would be a good deal for kids who just 'miss call' their friends/ parents to call them back. Good for emergancy use! For this you just need (I think) an unlocked phone but you will not get the data services. Give a brick a life?
  • Junkyard
    Wow, 10p a minute for texts? I can rattle off a short text in under ten seconds, so 2p sounds pretty reasonable.
  • Craig
    10p A MINUTE for texts, crap, I'd better brush up, can take me a few minutes to hack out an SMS, it's cost me a fortune!!
  • Zad
    This sounds a lot like the old Virgin tariff, which many Orange users took up under the Orange Value Plan. It is a contract so you don't have to buy any topup credit (and so it can never run out) with free voicemail calls. It must have saved me a fortune over the past few years! My average monthly bill is <£1 as I only use it for the occasional text message and to tell the folks when I will be home.
  • Mick
    3 have always had a deal like this, I got 2 handsets (nec clamshells) for £1 on a very similar deal when 3 first launched.
  • Antony W.
    So data costs £0.30/MB, that's 0.3 x 1000 per GB = 300£/GB. But 3 provide me with data today at £10/GB so what gives? At least its £10/GB today as I am roaming in the EU and using there '3 like home" service. But they say they will stop this end of June... what them I wonder?
  • Bob
    Mike, I doubt 3 were giving away free Skype calls and free instant messaging when they launched, so you could not have had this deal since then.
  • Paul S.
    Yeah, texts are 10 pence a minute, what's wrong with you? Every service provider does deals like.... oh. Duly amended. Thank you chaps!
  • Mick
    Bob... "LIKE this" is what I said
  • Ger
    I've got one of these already, its called Pay As You Go

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