Monday, 11 April 2011

Getting mobile interwebs

I'm looking at options to get my internet fix on the move. I've got an iPad 32Gb wi-fi on its way to me right now, I also have a laptop which I cart around and have to find wifi hotspots to piggyback on. I want something that will put an end to the hunt and I've found some things I quite like the look of but I need to know if it will work.

I could find a forum somewhere and post my questions there, but I know quite a lot of my tech-savvy friends read these posts, and I trust your advise more!

So, I'm looking at the Three MiFi device and I'm currently confused by the two options. They are the:

The first one appears to me to be £71.99 for the MiFi device. As far as I can see, there is no data included, so I'd have to PAYG and "top up" with a 30-day data bundle before I can use it.

On the other hand the MiFi (5GB) package is a "monthly" contract according to the site. It costs £39.99 for the MiFi device and a monthly fee of £15.99 for the 15GB of data.

Now that second option sounds very expensive over time. However, looking at the site I can't see any minimum contract length detailed. So, my question is:

Is there anything to stop me buying the MiFi (5GB) for £39.99 + £15.99 for the first month and then cancelling the monthly contract?

This would cost me a total of £55.98 and give me 15GB of data to start me off! That's a saving of £16.01 over the PAYG option, plus the cost of whatever data plan I added. Then would I be able to just get top-ups instead once I have the MiFi device rather than paying the monthly contract?

Or, even better, could I purchase a "Tablet SIM Pay As You Go + 12" for £51.49 which would give me 12Gb to use over 12 months for a single fee?

I don't see anything obvious that would prevent this, the MiFi device and SIM cards are both on the Three network. Am I missing something obvious in all this?


  1. The +3 gives you 3GB that lasts for three months. You can then buy a top-up of 1GB that is valid only for one month at a time.

    You'll probably end up paying at least two months of the contract MiFi, unless you contact them to cancel it pretty much the day you buy it. You'd have to buy a replacement PAYG SIM, you can't 'top up' a contract MiFi SIM. (My employer's office internet is a MiFi, we used up our monthly allowance and were told there was no way to get more until the next month! I write screen-scrapers for a living, I had to go home that day so I could have a working internet connection!)

    You can't buy a +12 SIM in any Three shops - you can only get it in a bundle with a device like a MiFi.

    I just bought a +12 SIM online, cut it down to MicroSIM size and put it in my iPad. It's a huge pain and Three's customer service is atrocious, but it's the best value deal I could find.

    Alternatively, if you have a phone with wifi, it's possible you can use its data connection with the laptop and iPad - that depends heavily on the phone and less heavily on the network you're with.

  2. My phone does allow for tethering, as does my phone contract. I get 2Gb per month which I can use however I like. The problem is keeping the thing charged up, it destroys the battery when acting as a hotspot!

    You can buy the Three 12 month tablet SIM online. I think this has to be what I get regardless of how I use it. I can't be getting an expensive monthly contract, and PAYG SIMS that only last a month a a rip-off.

  3. Once the 12 months are up you're back to 1GB/one month, though.

    If you have wifi tethering, I'd say look into getting an external battery for your phone instead. That's more flexible - means you can also boost your phone in other cases and it uses your existing connection.

  4. Maybe I'll try living with mobile tethering for now then. But when I get a new contract in a few months that probably won't be an option any more.

    Though I am tempted to just by a handset outright and get a SIM only deal this year.