Data Service Providers in the UK

March 18, 2013 - 4 minutes read

In today’s post, I will write a little about the data service providers in the UK, helping you make a decision which data sim to buy for your iPad.
Just keep it in mind that most of the things I write about in this post, are based on the opinions of other people and reviews, as I have not had the opportunity to test them all.

One main question is – how much data do you need to buy?
As a general rule, loading a typical web page uses around 100KB of data, a typical song download uses about 5MB, and watching a typical video uses around 250MB per 30 minutes.

This means a 200MB allowance would allow you to download around four music albums, stream video for 25 minutes or view 2,000 web pages.

1GB is usually equivalent to 10,000 webpages, 200 songs, 2 hours of video or a combination of the three.

There are 5 major service providers on the British market – Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile, Three and O2.

Three is offering 1GB of data on a rolling one-month contract for £7.50 per month. For £15 a month Three will give you a 10GB data allowance.

O2 will charge you £10.21 for 1GB over data over 30 days or £15.32 for 2GB.

T-Mobile’s only pay monthly iPad data deal will get you 5GB over 30 days for £15.

For £15 per month Orange will give you a 3GB allowance, while £25 per month will buy you 10GB but you’ll need to sign up for an iPad SIM-only plan first.

Vodafone will give you 500MB over 30 days for £7.50 or 2GB over 30 days for £15.

As we can see from the data above, there is no clear-cut winner on the market. The best way to make a decision about which service provider to use, would be to determine your data usage and then look at the offers again. If you are a heavy data user then Three seems to be your best pick. 10GB for £15 a month is a very good deal. Usually, if you purchase a data plan then you are a heavy user.

If you do not want to get a data plan and pay for the data monthly, there is the opportunity to get a Pay As You Go offer.

Three is offering 1GB for 30 days for £10.49 Three will give you an allowance of 3GB over three months.

O2 offers a 200MB per day pay as you go data plan for £2.04 per day. T-Mobile has a similar but better Pay As You Go tariff offering 250MB for one day for £2 per day. They also offer 500MB over a week for £7 and 1GB over a month for £15.

Orange also does 200MB valid for one day for £2 or 1GB over one week for £7.50, but again you need to you’ll need to sign up to an iPad data plan first.

Vodafone will charge you £5 for 250MB of data to use over 30 days on PAYG.

There is another reasonably priced service provider who offers Pay As You Go – giffgaff. Giffgaff, which runs on the O2 network, will give you 500MB for a month for £5, 1GB over one month for £7.50 or 3GB over a month for £12.50.

The best value tariff really depends on whether you want to pre-pay for your data or sign up for a pay-monthly plan, and how much data you actually need.
From all this data, we can conclude that if you are a heavy user, Three’s offer of 10GB for £15 is the best on the market.
If you do not need that much data and are not a heavy user, giffgaff’s Pay As You Go offer is the best.

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