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Giffgaff offers super-cheap data for iPads

Super-cheap phone network Giffgaff has launched a range of bargainous Internet options for iPads, tablets and dongles.

Super-cheap phone network Giffgaff has launched a range of Internet options for iPads, tablets and dongles. Known as Gigabags, the monthly data packages start at £5 -- and give you a free 50MB buffer zone if you run over.

Gigabags cost £5 for 500MB of data use, £7.50 for 1GB, or £12.50 for 3GB. If you use all your data you'll be charged 2p per MB until the end of the month-long Gigabag period.

You'll receive a message when you've used your allowance, when you start using the free 50MB and again when the 50MB is used up. The network is also working on an official app to track your data use.

Giffgaff reckons most people won't use the full allowance -- in fact, the network claims, "If you use every bit of data in these products, Giffgaff will lose money."

What is Giffgaff?

Giffgaff is the best phone network you've never heard of. It uses O2's network and saves money by relying on word of mouth instead of advertising, and crowdsourcing customer support.

Users are encouraged to participate in the community, earning points for spreading the word to new customers and helping out existing customers in the user forums. And what do points mean? Prizes -- or rather, extra phone credit.

If it sounds scary to have no official customer support, we're happy to report that a number of CNETeers have been on Giffgaff for years and never once encountered a problem that actually required customer support. If you're worried, dip into the forums to see what sort of problems crop up, where lots of active users help out anyone with questions and even build handy Giffgaff apps.

Unlimited data!

As well as being super-bargainous, Giffgaff is super-simple. There's no complicated matrix of tariffs, no hidden charges for data or what-have-you, and no lengthy contracts tying you down. You simply buy a data Gigabag or phone Goodybag each month. Goodybags start at £5 and give you a set allowance of free minutes. Spend a mere £10 and you get unlimited texts and unlimited Internet access on your smart phone.

Yes, that's proper unlimited access to the Internet on your phone. Of the major networks, only Three offers unlimited access, on its excellent One Plan.

Giffgaff is far and away the cheapest way to own a smart phone such as the Samsung Galaxy S2 or iPhone 4S. As long as you have the cash to lay out upfront for the phone, you can stick in a free Giffgaff SIM and save huge amounts of money over a contract from the major networks.

One catch with the data Gigabags is that they require a separate Giffgaff account from your phone account, so you have to log in separately to top them up. 

Are you a Giffgaffer? What's been your experience of the super-cheap network? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.