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Three UK Launch New Plans But Cap Unlimited Mobile Broadband Tethering

Tuesday, Mar 18th, 2014 (9:01 am) - Score 7,070

Mobile operator Three UK has, much as we predicted last month (here), today dropped unlimited Mobile Broadband Tethering support from its “all-you-can-eat” data based tariffs and replaced it with a 2GB (GigaByte) usage cap. On the upside.. calls to 0800, 0808 and 0500 numbers are now free from mobiles too.

The Tethering service is a clever feature that allows Smartphone owners to turn their kit into a wireless (wifi) Mobile Broadband modem (aka – Personal Hotspot) for use by other devices. Unfortunately this can result in customers using a larger amount of data than before (i.e. as if it was fixed line service) and is thus restricted on several networks.

Mobile data is a more expensive commodity than on your home connection and no doubt Three UK’s claim to offer an “all-you-can-eat” (AYCE) data allowance will have done little to encourage a modest level of consumption. Indeed many felt that it would only be a matter of time before something changed and now it has.

Under the new plans those wishing to make use of a Personal Hotspot (Tethering), even if it’s on a plan that claims to offer “all-you-can-eat” data (this refers to usage on the Smartphone/Tablet and not when in Tethering mode which is now capped), will be capped to a “maximum” of 2GB (GigaBytes). But those with an existing AYCE contract should be safe until they decide to change, or so we believe.

Apparently if “AYCE data customers want to use more data when their allowance has run out they can choose to buy a 1G Personal Hotspot” (at extra cost of course and we assume you’d need another top-up after that to keep going). Customers will also receive an alert when they hit 80% and 100% of their 2GB Personal Hotspot allowance within AYCE.

Elsewhere Three UK has launched a range of new plans that will allow customers to set limits in order to stop themselves going over their minutes allowance and limit spending on expensive numbers (expect text alerts when you are close to using up your allowances).

On top of that all 0800, 0808 and 0500 calls are free for customers on the new plans, while other 08 numbers (like 084 and 087) will cost 5ppm. It should be noted that 0800, 0808 and 0500 calls sit “outside of a customers’ voice minutes allowance“, which should mean they can make as many calls as they like to these numbers.

Dave Dyson, CEO of Three UK, said:

We asked people what frustrated them most about their mobile bills and confusion around the cost of calling 08 numbers came out top by a big margin. These charges are often buried in the small print and they’re expensive enough to make most customers fear calling them from their mobiles.

We want UK mobile users to get the most enjoyment from their smartphones or data device – the cost of calling 08 numbers is something we want to address for our customers.

UK mobile users are still afraid to use their devices in many circumstances. That’s why we’ve made it possible for our customers to use their home allowance abroad in 11 countries, including the USA. It’s why we’ve launched 4G at no extra cost and why we’ve committed not to raise our monthly recurring charges during the minimum period of a contract.”

It’s no surprise that Dyson doesn’t mention the Tethering cap, which is a very big negative change. At this point we should also note that Ofcom called for calls to 0800 and 0808 numbers to be made free at the end of last year (here), although operators have been given until 26th June 2015 to implement the changes. Clearly Three UK didn’t see any need to wait.

Sadly at the time of writing this update Three UK’s website has been down for a while “because we’re doing some essential maintenance work“, thus we can’t see the full details of their new packages and prices yet.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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