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Three unlimited data plans arrive, excess charges banished

Three has launched new unlimited smart phone contracts and tariffs that won't hit you with extra charges if you go over your limit.

Three has launched a range of new unlimited smart phone contracts, alongside tariffs that promise not to hit you with extra charges if you go over your limit.

Three joins Orange, GiffGaff and T-Mobile in offering unlimited data contracts. The new plans with unlimited data start at £18 per month and offer between 100 and 1,000 minutes of calls. 

Many tariffs come with a limit on data, or the amount you can connect to the web or use web-based apps such as maps or push email. When you go over that limit, inflated charges kick in and you get a shock when you open your bill.

But should you hit the 250MB limit on the Essential Internet tariff, you won't be able to connect any more, instead receiving a text message inviting you to top up.

Mobile watchdogs have repeatedly slammed phone networks over data charges. Networks are all too keen to advertise decent prices as part of their tariffs, but are less forthcoming over the limits on those tariffs -- or the extra charges that hit you when you breach those limits.

Industry bod Ernest Doku, of price comparison site, reckons that the shift from minutes to data reflects a change in the way we use our phones. "Out-of-bundle charges are the main reason why consumers are reluctant to unleash the full potential of their smart phones and get online," he adds.

"Many don't make the most of their full data allowance due to the fear of exceeding it and overspending. Three's new tariff will take away this data usage fear."

That said, he concedes, "Many users would rather incur out-of-bundle charges on data in those situations where they need to get online quickly."

The new tariffs are available tomorrow. Are you enticed by Three's new price plans? Do you want your phone to cut off when you reach your limit, or would you rather be able to get online in emergencies? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page.