Wow – surprise post! You haven’t seen me in a while – in fact it was a year to the day yesterday since I last posted. Sorry – uni, work and self-employed work have all taken their toll and I’ve been forced to reallocate my time. Nonetheless, some news did crop up today which I did think was worth some discussion.
Three – well known in the UK as the most generous data provider around – have today made some major changes to their contract offers to bring into place a range of policy changes.
Before you read on, it’s worth clarifying that these changes do not affect existing One Plan customers. Three would naturally want to avoid making such a major change to existing contracts, as customers would potentially have a get-out clause for the remainder of their contracts (in general, customers can pull out of their contract without penalty if their provider makes a change to their contract mid-term that imposes a significant change to the service that they are entitled to). See clause 10.1(d) of the pay monthly terms and conditions:
10.1 You may end this agreement in the following ways:
(d) Within one month of a materially detrimental variation to your agreement. You can end the agreement within one month of us telling you about a variation to your agreement (which includes your Package) which is likely to be of material detriment to you. You must give notice to Three Customer Services within that month and your agreement will finish at the end of that month once we receive your notice (a Cancellation Fee will not be charged).
As of today, Three are no longer offering their immensely popular One Plan contract to new customers – instead they offering a range of new contracts that provide various allowances of data and minutes. All contracts now include unlimited texts, so I guess that’s one thing that is simpler.
The new plans offer data allowances ranging from 500MB to “all-you-can-eat” and call allowances from 50 minutes through to unlimited. Tethering is now allowed on all plans regardless of your data allowance - except where your allowance is “all-you-can-eat”, where you will now be allowed up to 2GB of tethering per month. Three will notify you when you’ve burned through 80% and 100% of your limit to keep you in the know.
Additionally, for new contracts starting today, Three now offer free calls to all 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers for all new 24 month contracts. Again, we would have expected this to be cropping up sometime before too long because Ofcom have instructed all providers to do the same before the end of June 2015. Calls to 084* and 087* numbers are also brought down to 5p per minute – which is great to see as in many cases this will be cheaper than your landline (particularly for 0871 or 0843 numbers – which are very expensive to call from landlines and commonly found on service providers websites). Three certainly deserve credit for simplifying the cost of calling national numbers.
If you’re an existing customer, you aren’t, by default, eligible for the new 08 number rates. If you wish, you can call Three and get your plan updated to include the new rates, but be warned: if you are an existing One Plan customer and you request the new 08 rates, you will be moved to a new plan for the remainder of your contract and will be stripped of your unlimited tethering.
In terms of my own opinion – I’m naturally disappointed that Three will no longer be offering unlimited tethering, but in their defence it is very easy to see why. The cost of providing such an offering would be immense. Many people were abusing the service and using it as a replacement for their home broadband, which would have led to excessive consumption of data. I freely admit myself that I’ve had cases where I’ve consumed in excess of 50GB of data in a month through my plan – mainly due to internet outages at home or simply because, up until when I recently switched to Virgin Media, my 3G signal was faster than my ADSL line!!
So fair enough to Three I guess. My current contract runs through to next February, and until that time I’ll continue to use the tethering as I did before. If anything, it’ll only make me consider other providers when I renew now where I might not have done before. To be honest though, when you bear in mind all the perks you now get from 3 – inclusive allowances in many countries abroad, free 080 / 05 calls (for new customers as above), etc – it’s still hard to bear others in mind. Remember the new rules only apply to tethering – Three are likely to remain the only provider to offer unlimited 4G phone data uage for some time; or at least until giffgaff start providing 4G!
To help make this easier to understand, I’ve put together some FAQs. You may wish to confirm any of these with 3 as I’m not a representative of them or anything like that, but all information is based on what’s available on their website.
Can I still get hold of a ‘One Plan‘ contract?
No, they’re no longer available to subscribe to.
I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – what’s happening to my tethering allowance?
Nothing, providing you make no further changes to your plan for the remainder of your contract (see below for more info). Existing ‘One Plan’ customers will continue to have their existing privileges for the remainder of their contract. So, if you’re currently on a contract under the ‘One Plan’, you will continue to receive your unlimited tethering unless you renew or modify your contract.
I’m already on a ‘One Plan’ contract – do I get the new 08 call rates?
Not by default, no. Your plan remains unmodified, so calls are still chargeable for 08 numbers as they were before. You are able to contract Three Customer Services who will enable the new 08 rates on your account at no extra charge or contract extension - however, by doing so, you are modifying you’re contract and, as a result, you will no longer be eligible for unlimited tethering (instead you get a 2GB tethering limit). DO NOT ASK FOR THE NEW 08 RATES TO BE APPLIED TO YOUR ACCOUNT IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE UNLIMITED TETHERING.
My renewal is coming up on my ‘One Plan’ contract – can I keep my unlimited tethering?
Unfortunately, no. When your contract renews you can no longer have the ‘One Plan’ so your unlimited tethering is no longer available.
I’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014 – how do the new 08 rates work?
If you’ve signed up to a new contract on or after 18/03/2014, you’re automatically eligible for the new 08 rates. That means that you get free calls to any 0800 / 0808 / 0500 numbers and they do not come out of your minutes allowance. Additionally, any calls to 087* or 084* numbers are set at 5p per minute – which may be cheaper than your landline (it’s worth checking).