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Three kills unlimited 3G and 4G tethering for new customers

Sam Loveridge



UPDATED: Three has confirmed to TrustedReviews that the rumoured changes to the One Plan are correct.

Tethering will now be limited to a maximum 2GB of data, regardless of whether you are on an all-you-can-eat data tariff. This is to enable Three to "manage its network a little better."

"A small percentage of customers were taking advantage of the tethering benefits, using up to 2 terabytes of data a month, making it unfair for the other 99 per cent," said a Three spokesperson.

Tethering has been made available to more customers across more contracts ranging from 500MB to all-you-can-eat data, with a maximum of 2GB available.

The One Plan will also not be available to to new customers. Instead they will have access to a new 24 month contract. Anyone who is currently on the One Plan will be able to continue using it, but once their contract is up they will be required to swap to the new contract if they upgrade their smartphones.

If they switch to a SIM-only contract, they can continue to be on the One Plan. New Three customers can also still get the One Plan on a SIM-only basis as well.

Original Story: Three has updated all its tariffs and killed one of its most popular benefits, unlimited 3G and 4G tethering.

The UK network provider upgraded all 3G contract subscribers to the superfast 4G LTE for free, but has removed one of the key benefits of its extremely popular One Plan.

New customers will only be able to opt for plans that offer a 2GB tethered data maximum, rather than the unlimited tethering originally offered to existing customers.

Three's tethering allowed you to use your unlimited 3G and 4G data from multiple connected devices, including mobiles, tablets and even laptops.

We’ve reached out to Three for some official information, but rumour has it that existing customers will not be affected by the changes.

The Three website is also temporarily down for “essential maintenance work”.

New contracts starting from today offer 500MB data all the way up to all-you-can-eat data, with call packages starting at 50 minutes up to unlimited as well as unlimited text messages.

Tethering on the 500MB, 1GB or 2GB data plans can account for up to 100 per cent of all data used, but if you fork out for the all-you-can-eat tariffs you can only get a maximum 2GB tethered data.

If you need more, additional tethered data allowance will be available at an additional cost.

Rather sadly, according to Wired UK, Three will also be making the One Plan a SIM-only offering.

Three said that the One Plan “will no longer be available for contract handset sales.”

It sounds like you won’t be able to sign up to the One Plan when purchasing a brand new smartphone from Three from now on, so you might have to change your plans if you wanted it with your Samsung Galaxy S5 or upcoming HTC One M8.

In an attempt to sweeten the deal, Three has made calls to 0800 numbers completely free from your mobile, but we doubt that's much of a bargaining chip.

Read more: Best mobile phones 2014


March 18, 2014, 1:40 pm

There goes one of the best reasons to choose Three, and one of the only good reasons for having 4G.


March 18, 2014, 1:44 pm

What you meant to say was There goes the only reason... At all, to join Three.

A Dimension Of Mind

March 18, 2014, 2:06 pm

Figured this was going to happen, and it still makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to make every smartphone on their network dumb. I tether my laptop, or iPad to my Nexus 5 while at work and use roughly 7GB of data a month. There's no movies there some trailers just, regular surfing and emails, content shifting back and forth for backups to the cloud, everything's in the cloud these days, and a bit of Rdio.

What the hell is the point of a super fast 4G service that will kill data use! If their network isn't ready for this advance don't implement it. Alternatively give a decent cap of 10-15GB, then the small number of people using +2TB will be cut off, and they can efficiently manage the network. There's no rocket science involved here just common sense.

It'll be bye bye to Three when my contract is up, but given other operators are just as bad or worse, it looks like I'll be on adsl at home on my superduperfast 1.5mb line.



March 18, 2014, 4:55 pm

Why punish the 99% because of the 1%? The 1% wouldn't even exists if Three actually bothered to police their network and bump the ridiculously high data users for taking the piss.

Been with Three for years because of their sensible data policy (I use 5-10GB per month) - I will now be looking to other networks. (Who are, on the whole, completely rubbish!)

Sandy Smith

March 18, 2014, 5:22 pm

Had a feeling the link up with EE was going to come with drawbacks, hard to recommend 3 to friends and family with new tariffs and terms, the 5 quid increase the other week stopped one of my friends from joining, these further limitations will push others away too.

So long as my existing tariff is not effected by the cap I will probably remain but contract is up in June/july time, guess i will have to evaluate the market then, though I have been a happy customer in the few years I have been with them and got a lot of my family on their network, moving might be costly loosing free 3 to 3 minutes, guess they'll all have to follow. :)


March 18, 2014, 7:25 pm

so am i right in saying i can still get the one plan on a sim deal with unlimited teathering ? ... if so it looks like i will be buying the s5 and getting a sim deal. sounds silly to me that they would stop this as three will be the only ones missing out here ........

Chris Corcoran

March 18, 2014, 9:12 pm

I was thinking when would this happen and this could be the end for three, I know family & friends who joined the network for teathing is was a key selling point.
Thjree now says it has to police its network but i feel its like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted???
I just joined three just before the new changes came into place and the sales guy said i would be able to keep the unlimited teathering for my contract.
i signed up to the one plan 12 month sim only so i hope this is the case or i am off within the 14 days leaving point.
i was also told as long as i stay on the plan i keep the teathing so i can never change plans or upgrade or i will kiss goodbye to the only reason i joined the network.
three also claim that its all new free calls to 0800 numbers will be of help sort of a dont worry about teathing you now have free calls to 0800 numbers on us???
again three has still not done its homework as there are apps to bypass 0800 numbers and even giffgiff have been given free calls to the numbers for years now lol
bad call and your new plans rubbish , think three need to relook at this bigtime.

M Mouse

March 19, 2014, 12:01 am

Sorry Steff. The One Plan SIM only deal (with unlimited tethering) was sold at £15/month from July 2013 to 29 January this year. Then it went up to £20/month (prices shown are for 12 month contracts), but a guy in a 3 Store told me the 2 GB/month tethering cap would come in on 11/03/14 so my guess is you're too late.

There were articles warning it was likely to happen, and it may have been a few days later, but seems like this week the "new" ads are to stress that 0800 (+ 0808 + 0500) are free on the new 24 month contracts, so I assume the changes were all in place early this week so the online site would match what their stores are offering to the public.

M Mouse

March 19, 2014, 12:36 am

The bulk of ISPs claiming "unlimited" usage didn't, at least not until recently.

Three did not have any hidden "Fair Usage Policy" so they must have made the decision that those who stuck with the One Plan would continue to get unlimited, and it would close to new business

Perhaps they felt that there was a long enough "window" for people to switch, with the promise that 4G would come in, while other networks started marketing their offerings, with some costly, and rather limited data allowances.

I agree with your view that others may, on the whole, be rubbish, so wonder why you'd even consider switching away? I tend to use 5-10 GB a week, not month.


March 19, 2014, 1:55 am

I had pick about to upgrade to a iPhone 5s and keep my ultimate internet 500 that was the best plan I have had and is perfect for me and would of cost me £37 a month, now it £41, the new iPhone is out this year and it should be cheaper per month not more, three loves the internet, now I think not


March 20, 2014, 8:25 pm

so ThrEE are claiming the issue was some people using 2TB a month. so to combat that level of usage they have set the limit to 2GB? 3 being awesome at data was the single reason to use their network and now they have just taken that reason away. their 4g coverage is spectacularly behind all the other networks and they offer no 2g network for power saving.


March 22, 2014, 2:01 pm

theve just lost a customer im due an upgrade but not now with three back to broadband


April 1, 2014, 10:53 am

Just agreed to a contract renewal with three from ultimate internet 500 to the one plan SIM only with unlimited tethering. I had initially phoned to give three the 30 day termination notice main reason being the 2gb tether cap as I had planned on ditching my home broadband. The CSR explained that if I'd have had a new handset it'd be a 2gb capped contract. However SIM only was still subject to the old unlimited tethering. Wether that's for existing customers going SIM only or not I do not know.


April 7, 2014, 11:49 am

I totally agree. I signed up to the one plan as it gives me freedom. Sometimes I work away and use my phone as my main connection to my laptop, it's great. Some months I've gone over 30-40Gb with movies and downloads, other months my usage will be less than 1Gb.

They should give a sensible limit, say 50Gb, which is more than enough to keep 99% of their customers happy. As you said, the whole point of 4g is faster download speeds, but now we can't download anything.

This decision sucks, I'll be leaving Three too.


April 7, 2014, 11:50 am

Agreed. Their signal isn't the best, but I stuck with them for years due to low prices and in recent years the one plan. Now that's gone, I might as well move to a better network.


April 12, 2014, 9:57 am

That's funny because there's a usage cap of 1TB.


May 6, 2014, 6:19 pm

Yep, but they said it. Which seems to me that those using 2TB a month are the problem. I used 200GB a month, on a heavy month, and now I'm being penalised :/


May 6, 2014, 6:29 pm

How about not even 50GB? What about 500GB. That should cover 99% of users. There are a lot of data heavy users using well within the limits of the contract that are being put out by this too. They also have TrafficSense to help manage the network. They could happily limit like Virgin Media does (X.XXGB downloaded during peak times means you're speed is limited until off-peak times) etc.

I download 200GB a month, on a heavy usage month. And most of that is done during the dead of the night (2-5am) so I'm not a detriment to my local mast. I don't see why I should be ounished.


May 27, 2014, 1:59 pm

what the hell were you doing with 200gb a month?!


May 27, 2014, 11:44 pm

Streaming Netflix, Downloading Steam, Origin, Uplay, GOG or Humble bundle games. YouTube. Google Play Music.

Paul Lowe

June 12, 2014, 8:44 pm

Some folks are saying that those who use high amounts of data are taking the piss. No they are not, they are paying for unlimited internet. Most I have used in a month is 114gb, I've used 10gb in the last 12 days, tethering. Backing up loads of stuff to drop box, the UL is much faster on three than my home internet. I suggest nobody on the one plan changes their contract, when your contract ends if you want to have a new phone buy it, and drop the sim into it. You will keep your ayce data and tethering then. As for the 0800 sweetener, LOL who's going to fall for that. Install Skype on your phone and make 0800 calls through that, completely free, and no credit is needed.


October 2, 2014, 8:12 pm

Did anyone notice how they pulled the Sim-only "The One Plan" deal in July? Without informing anyone or making any press release?


November 15, 2014, 7:19 am

Guy are they allowed to shift you to another plan? I'm on the 12 month sim only plan and Three gave me till January 22 2015 and then they going to cancel my contract and shift me to another really crappy plan! does anyone knows if this is written/hidden in their terms and conditions? Coz I cant seem to find it.
help please :(

Jason hugill

December 18, 2014, 4:09 pm

Its disgusting that three are doing away with all you can eat tarriff as its all i use never used mins or text as used data to stream films on my ipad...
I for one am now looking elsewhere unless 3 wake up to the customers!!!!

Adam Campbell

March 31, 2015, 10:06 am

Honestly, I wondered how the network would take this kind of hammering long term. I like generous but it seemed unsustainable. Bear in mind, even broadband plans on Three don't offer this much data. That said, if you're willing to pay, there should be as many options as possible.

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