This morning I discovered a new plan from Three, offering 100GB (well, 102GB according to the price list) of data per month with an introductory price of £25/month on a 12-month contact, or £29/month on a 1-month rolling contract.
Yes, you can already tell what I’m thinking given my history of cynicism but I’m actually thinking quite a few things here.
- Does this finally mean the end of All-you-can-Eat data plans? Or will the price of those plans just rise further when the introductory offer ends? At the moment, it’s just £4 difference which even with an introductory discount still makes the AYCE offering more sensible.
- If a user has no limit, will they have any reason to rush to consume data near the end of the month, compared to having paid for a fixed amount of data? If they do the latter, this plan could actually put more load on the network as I’m certain many AYCE plan users don’t actually use that much data all the time and just have the plan for peace of mind.
- There’s still only 30GB for the portable hotspot element, which probably means Three is still hopeful people won’t actually use the whole allowance up, although increasingly people are consuming more data for higher resolution video (6-8GB per hour for 4K HDR video on a Sony XZ Premium for example).
- GoBinge offers zero-rated data, but at a much lower resolution, so will people want to opt in for that on such a plan?
- What happens to existing subscribers in the future? Like those who are paying under £20 for a plan with unlimited data? After the precedent set by turfing people off the One Plan and other legacy plans, what’s to say that we won’t wake up soon to more letters telling us our plan has ended and we must move on to one of these new plans – at a higher price?
On the plus side, these new plans may well speed up the increase in data allowances offered on other networks. So for that, the consumer is likely to win overall and for that, Three should be commended.
I doubt EE or Vodafone will ever match the price, but it will still shake things up and make the current 30, 40 and even 60GB plans look rather outdated and expensive. In turn, it might mean Three has no choice but to launch another plan, like 200GB, in the future.
I do hope in the future Three may offer these types of allowance on mobile broadband (50GB seems to be the limit today, and at higher cost), to allow smart TVs, Sky boxes and the like to stream 4K video when some home broadband connections are just not up to the job.
Or to get computers online for much faster downloads and uploads.
Three’s other networks around the world have offered 100GB and 250GB plans, possibly higher now, for some time. So it’s good to see the choice increase, but I do fear that anyone hoping unlimited data will remain affordable, or even available at all, in the future is likely to become sorely disappointed.
- In other news; Three users should soon start seeing improvements in service in parts of London as Three is beginning to offer carrier aggregation (using 800 + 1800MHz 4G) and the refarming of 10MHz of 3G spectrum (2100MHz) for 4G usage. This should help alleviate some of the congestion in certain hotspots I identified earlier this year, where data was so slow that it caused timeout errors at certain times of the day.
- Three is also offering users in some areas a 100GB ‘Home-Fi’ broadband service, using a Cat 4 LTE router for use in a home or office. Currently 100GB is available for £30 per month, and data is usable on any device connected to the router.
More info: Three SIM only plans