What Is The Best Data Sim For Me?
A data SIM is a SIM card that goes into a mobile broadband device (MiFi) or tablet rather than into a mobile phone handset – although much of what is true of a data SIM is also true of a phone SIM.
Three main things you need to consider. 1.) How much data do you need? 2.) How long do you need it for? 3.) Are you using it abroad?
How much data do you need?
When asking ‘how much data do I need’ it really is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question. The amount of data you require is equal to the amount of data that you and your connected devices consume on a monthly basis. The more devices, or people connected, the more data you have the potential to use.
Ultimately one thing usually defines your usage more than anything else and that is streaming video content, which is becoming increasingly popular in recent years. This could be YouTube, Netflix, iPlayer or even scrolling through Facebook videos. Typically, you would consume 0.5 to 1GB of data per hour of video depending on the quality of the stream and so it’s always worth looking to see if you can choose a lower quality setting to reduce your overall consumption.
If you are a very occasional user or someone who doesn’t stream very often, you could consider a pre-loaded SIM card. Both Three and EE offer 24GB of data valid for 2 or 1 years respectively for around £50 one-off cost, with EE having the edge for Scotland. This means for the months your van is out of use, your data remains waiting for you up to that 1 or 2 year period.
How long do you need it for?
The more data you use, the more likely that a contract SIM card is going to work out cheaper for you in the long run. This could be a 30-day rolling contract, or a 12-month contract – usually the longer the commitment the cheaper the data per GB but you have to consider how often you will be using it.
Three have been offering some ‘Unlimited’ data SIM cards for a little while now in the region of £20 pm, or indeed if Netflix is your vice then any Three contracts with an allowance of over 12GB include unlimited Netflix use for free as part of their ‘Go Binge’ service.
Are you using it abroad?
While Three SIM’s look great for the UK, if you’re spending more than 2 months abroad at a time, or are wanting to stream TV then there really is only one network that can be recommended.
Vodafone doesn’t impose any data limits on European data use and don’t specifically mention a foreign use time limitation in their T&C’s meaning for long term or high data European use they are by far the best provider. These SIM’s have been tried and tested by our customers and MotorhomeFun members for over a year.
Vodafone presently offer 50GB of data on a 30 day rolling contract for £25pm. This means the contract lasts indefinitely until you give 30 days notice, at which point it ends and your final bill is pro-rata.
Alternatively, Vodafone routinely offer 100GB of data on promotion for as little as £24 or sometimes discounted as low as £13 by redemption which is a fantastic deal if you consider all of that data is valid in Europe.
For UK use, EE tend to have better coverage
Vodafone: No published limitation on data use or time abroad, tried and tested by many of our customers and those on MHF.
Three: 13GB (PAYG), 19GB (Contract). Maximum 2 months foreign use in a rolling 4 month period (not consistently enforced).
O2: Consumer mobile broadband tariffs don’t work abroad, handsets and business plans work abroad without a data cap, but fair usage policy means speeds may be throttled on some plans. Limit of 2 months out of 4 may be applied.
EE: Max 15GB of data per month. Maximum 2 months foreign use in a rolling 4 month period (not consistently enforced).
MVNO’s (Asda, Tesco, GiffGaff etc) vary slightly, refer to their T&C’s.