The search for a new mobile provider…


I’ve been with Three for a while.  In fact I’ve been with them for nearly six years and I’ve got used to the 12/18  monthly haggle to secure an even better deal.  I’ve always put up with the annoyances of the network because of the good retention deals I’ve been given (latest tariff was 300 mins, 25 video mins, 150 SMS, 25 MMS, £5 of downloads and 2Gb of data for £5 a month with a basic handset).  I’ve put up with poor signal when I’m away from the centre of town, and I’ve put up with the periods of time you can’t use your handset because it is handing over between the 3g signal and the 2g backup on Orange.

However I was angry when the recent VAT increase caused my bill to go up by 10% even though VAT hadn’t gone up by anywhere near that amount.  I was disappointed by the subsequent conversations I had with the Indian call centres who seem unable to deviate from the scripts they are given (and didn’t seem to understand my concern).  Eventually the executive office of Three intervened (after I contacted Three on Twitter) and I was released a few months early from my contract (they are probably glad to see the back of low users like myself).  This made me wonder if now might be the time to change to another network.  Sim-free competition has brought prices down and the tariff I am on is no longer the fantastic deal it once was.

So who to go to?

I’m a not a heavy user of data but use between 0.5 and 15Mb data day depending on my activity, and I’m a light texter/caller.  I don’t want to commit to another contract (even a zero-cost one like my previous one with Three).  SIM only tariffs seem to cater only for heavier users and most PAYG tariffs seem expensive for more than the odd phone call or don’t include data.

Here’s a list of who I considered:

Sim Free (30day contract)
  • O2 – cheapest tariff with data is around £20 a month
  • Vodafone – as above
  • Orange – around £20 a month with 500Mb data
  • T-mobile – cheapest deal I found was £6 a month for 100mins/100 SMS and ‘unlimited’ internet (500Mb)

PAYG (no contract at all)
  • GiffGaff – Owned by O2 and run on their network.  PAYG (8p calls, 4p texts) but do cheap bundles of minutes/texts with truly unlimited internet
  • O2 – £10 top-up each month gives (free) 500Mb data and 300 texts
  • Asda – 8p calls, 4p texts but 20p per Mb of data
  • Three – 150Mb data with each topup but expensive calls (they recently removed lots of their freebies for new customers)
  • Orange – 100Mb data and free texts with a £10 top-up. An extremely poor offering…
  • T-mobile – 100 free mins with £10 top-up but expensive data
  • Vodafone – £10 top-up gets you 300 free texts and 500Mb data

I decided to try GiffGaff who have a very active community and some good call plans.  I ordered a SIM from a member (you get a free £5 credit when you activate if you are referred) and swapped it for the phone in my HTC Desire.  I’ll post again when I’ve used it for a few days – in the meantime clicking this link gets you a GiffGaff sim card with free £5 credit.

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