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3 To Introduce £15 Unlimited Minutes & SMS Tariff

Gordon Kelly


3 To Introduce £15pm Unlimited Minutes & SMS Tariff

14.4Mbit mobile broadband and network enlargement were not the only topics on the table in my briefing with 3 CEO Kevin Russell this morning for he also had some rather exciting news I managed to squeeze out...

On 1 November 3 will launch a potentially game changing new tariff: unlimited calls, unlimited text messages and a 1GB data allowance for just £15pm. What? Where? How? Huh?

Ok, let's start from the beginning. As I mentioned earlier MTRs are severely hampering 3's ability to break away from other rival operators and offer bargain basement prices to its customers. What are MTRs? They stand for 'Mobile Termination Rates' and they represent the charge 3 pays to other rival telcos when making a call to their network. In real terms this costs 3 6p a minute so if they don't charge more than this to their customers they won't make any profit.

The catch is the real world cost of MTRs is actually only about 1p per minute to their respective networks and they bank the rest. For 3 this adds up to a whopping £190m bill per annum - quite the disadvantage. Thankfully the EC is pushing for MTRs to be cut substantially to promote fairer competition and better value to customers and in an effort to show just how vital this is 3 has come up with this unlimited tariff.

As you might expect by now - if you've been following closely - this plan only applies to calls made between customers on the same network. Unlimited calls, unlimited messages and 1GB data all for just £15 per month. Were MTRs to be cut Kevin tells me they could have a plan in place to offer the same scheme across every network "tomorrow".

Of course you can vote with your wallets. Theoretically everyone could swap to 3 and save a fortune, but more realistically however let's hope and pray the EC takes a machete to MTRs...


3 UK


October 9, 2008, 10:51 pm

"In real terms this costs 3 6p a minute"

3p or 6p or 3-6p ?


October 9, 2008, 11:23 pm

Lol Williamn, I would imagine:

"In real terms this costs THREE 6p a minute"

Can't be sure, though!

Before everyone gets carried away by the Three tariff train it's worth remembering that, considering it has a relatively small customer base, it still manages to rack up the complaints. The outsourced CS operation is extremely ineffective. Perhaps Gareth could stop faffing around with glitzy tariffs for five minutes and sort that out?

For anyone who is repeatedly running into brick walls trying to resolve issues with Three, we've got a good thread here: http://www.talk3g.co.uk/sho...


October 10, 2008, 12:11 am

i'd like to see the small print on the "unlimited" plans...it's also pretty useless if your call gets dropped every 2 mins or you can't get a strong, consistent signal or the data rates are glacial in speed. 3 may promise the world to get consumers to switch, but I think it would be very wise to wait until we actually see *real* network coverage expansion & reliability improvements before pulling the trigger.

As with T-Mobile, I commend 3 for heading in the right direction, but i'm more interested in results that hot air and future expansion plans.


October 10, 2008, 1:26 am

I used to work for Three in their Network Operations department and I must let you know that the network is really inefficient!

They have inadequate equipment that fails a lot of the time. The only reason they are in the game is because their parent company Hutchison Wampoa have deep pockets and keep pumping money into them "hoping" they will make a profit when in reality they are accumulating a &#1631.4bn loss every quarter!


October 10, 2008, 1:39 am

@Sunil - that may have been the case, but I think it's fair to also give them the benefit of the doubt that things may have moved on since you were there.

@Ben - show me a network which DOESN'T have tonnes of complaints. Everyone makes mistakes, but I think the point of note here is clearly 3 is trying to do something different.


October 10, 2008, 2:11 am

@Gordon - They haven't! I still have contacts at Ericsson (Three have outsourced their Network Operations to Ericsson) and they have told me things are still the same if not worse.


October 10, 2008, 2:40 am

@ Gordon - and you can tell all that in just 1 meeting with a suave front man? Maybe defending 3's record and / or championing their cause isn't you role? After all your article says it all, now we just have to wait and see & hope that it's not all just (yet more) hot air. It's fair to say that 3 have a slightly more 'dubious' record of customer service that other UK network carriers. Let's hope that they can do a 'Dell' and pull it round!


October 10, 2008, 11:25 am

Interesting, I dont think this will really take off since I imagine theres no allowance for contacting people on other networks, so think this is more of a signal of intent of where 3 is wanting to go, but hopefully it will get people thinking.

Im not sure what peoples problem is with 3 really, Ive been with them for about 2 years now after switching from o2 and I have to say they are substancially better than 02 were in terms of customer service (even taking into account the Customer Service is overseas, everyone who ive spoken to has been helpful with 3)

Recently I was coming to the end of my 3 contract so i tested sim only offers from all the major players to see who was the best, basically I eventually stayed with 3 because their network was consitantly giving me the best 3g and overall coverage in my area! Even better than vodafone!


October 10, 2008, 11:35 am

Different is good but they really do need to sort out all the problems that currently infect 3 otherwise you get the idea they are going to be adding another 'different problem'.

Doubling the amount of masts should address some of the coverage issues, what would really earn them some real cred would be to publish 'true' network speeds, even if your arse is sitting on one of their masts you cannot get the full speed. I hasten to add that the dongle is inserted in the laptop.


October 10, 2008, 1:25 pm

@Stelph - Ahhhh, *your* the one!

I'm glad 3 has worked out for you, It must be great to get a good service at a great price. Personally my experience with 3 (many years back, I admit...although I know poor friends who were suckered by the cheap plans) was so awful that I will never return....(unless - they start complementing their network by using 2G frequencies) and they continue with their competitive prices and they must bring customer service base back to Britain. There's nothing more depressing than being transferred half-way round the world to speak to someone, no matter how bright & cheery they are!


October 10, 2008, 1:51 pm

@lifethroughalens Thanks, im glad its worked out too!

By the way they do complement their 3G service with a 2G service? I believe they use the orange network as a backup in the UK and They have done since ive been with them anyway and it works great and means I am NEVER without a service, should I ever go into an area that doesnt have 3G coverage it instantly switches from the 3G network to the 2G network without dropping a call, obviously internet then doesnt work when you're in the 2G network..


October 11, 2008, 12:13 am

Just imagine what the article would have been like if 3 would have the jesus-phone...


October 14, 2008, 4:04 pm

I've had a &#16315 tariff since March with 3 and found the service to be great. I don't know what the problem is supposed to be. 3 are to be commended for forcing the rest of the sleeping giants in the UK mobile market to wake up.

BTW they are already effectively offering this tarrif to existing customers by giving you 2000 3-to-3 minutes extra if you buy a 2nd mobile. I've just signed up for the wife - even she can't use up that sort of allowance surely.

My only advice to Gareth is to include video calling to other 3 customers in the 3-to-3 allowance. i.e. 2000 voice or video minutes. As has just been eloquently explained by Gordon the marginal cost is negligible since it stays in the 3 network and might finally kick start this service.

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