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Prepaid SIM - UK/Great Britain/England/Scotland/Wales

Prepaid SIM - UK/Great Britain/England/Scotland/Wales

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Old Jul 26, 17, 10:07 pm   -   Wikipost
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This is a stub Wiki for this thread - the idea is that any member can edit it to keep it up to date as a distillation of the best info from the thread.

3 - 200MB Free data SIM
3 - 15 pounds for 300 minutes, 3000 texts, and unlimited 3G data for a month (http://store.three.co.uk/view/searchSimOnly?tariff=112) The deal might not be dead but to buy the addon you need to switch WiFi off (!!) and open http://three.co.uk/my3 on your device as this unlinked support page says. Three customer service and store both says this doesn't work with tablets -- however customer service are idiots and doesn't know what is a tablet only knows phones and iPads (both phone and chat -- this is apparently company level). Tread carefully. Anyways, this method still worked on January 13, 2015.

Note the GBP15 all you can eat deal has now been pulled(Note 8/3/16: All in one with All you can eat data is now GBP25): http://www.threemicrosites.co.uk/AIO20B

If you don't want to buy a bundle or a plan, Three's flat rate for calls is now 3p per minute. The expiry time of one month or three months for topups has now been removed. So you pay only 3p per call minute for what you use.

Three's data is only 1p per MB, and you can buy packages (eg 500MB for 5 pounds). The packages ("add-ons") may not save money directly, but those data packages are eligible for use in "Feel at Home" countries (Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia, Macau, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Sweden, USA) at no extra charge. See http://support.three.co.uk/SRVS/CGI-...se=EXT(EM11925)


EE: http://shop.ee.co.uk/price-plans/free-sim

Vodafone: https://freesim.vodafone.co.uk

O2: https://www.o2.co.uk/freesim/

giffgaff: www.giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/nfh (£5 free credit) or www.giffgaff.com/orders/free-sim (no free credit)

Three: https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Free_SIM/Order

How do I top up with an overseas card, or can I use PayPal?

Strangely, some firms insist that you must use a UK issued credit card to topup. Some do take PayPal:

Giffgaff
Vodafone

But it is not as prevalent as it should bein this day and age admittedly. There is a firm that some people have reported success with and they are:

https://www.mobiletopup.co.uk/

What frequencies are used in the UK?

There are a total of 5 different frequencies used in the UK used by the mobile networks to deliver their 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services.

800MHz (Band 20)
900MHz (Band 8)
1800MHz (Band 3)
2100MHz (Band 1)
2600MHz (Band 7)

Here's a chart for iPhones and which bands each model can use. http://www.apple.com/iphone/LTE/

If you're not sure which model you have, look on the back of your iPhone or go into Settings-->General-->About-->Legal-->Regulatory

iphone 5 users note that: iPhone 5 cannot get 4G/LTE on the 800MHz or 2600MHz frequencies but it can on the 1800 frequency.

For other users there are a number of resources to check the frequency your phone supports including:

Global Certification Forum

As an example this is the data for a Samsung J1 Ace SM-J111F

GSMARENA

What frequencies do the different operators use?

Each operator in the UK utilises different frequencies to deliver their mobile networks with the core networks being EE, O2, Vodafone and Three. Then there are also operators, called mobile virtual network operators (MVNO), who utilise the backend of the core networks to offer their own services.

The frequencies used by the major UK networks are:

EE (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 1800MHz & 2600MHz

O2 (2G) 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Vodafone (2G) 900MHz & 1800MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 2600MHz

Three (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 1800MHZ



The frequencies used by UK’s MVNO’s are listed below:

Asda Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

BT Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz & 2100MHz

iD Mobile (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 1800MHz

Freedom Pop (2G) N/A (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz & 1800MHz

GiffGaff (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Lebara Mobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

LycaMobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

TalkMobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) N/A

TalkTalk (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

Tesco Mobile (2G) 900MHz (3G) 900MHz & 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz

The People’s Operator (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz & 2100MHz

Virgin Mobile (2G) 1800MHz (3G) 2100MHz (4G LTE) 800MHz, 1800MHz, & 2600MHz

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Old Apr 20, 18, 8:48 am
  #466  
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I have 3 which I find very good. The credit never expires unless you are on a 30 day roam at home plan. I also had Vodaphone for many years until my nephew lost the sim card. I got my sim card from eBay so I could have it when I landed. If you wait to get it in London the sim is free at the 3 shop. If you are coming in on BA. there is a Vodaphone shop in Terminal 5. Both sims will work well in France and Germany.
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Old Nov 10, 18, 6:10 pm
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I am going to London for a few days.

I am getting there after the stores close so I am thinking I:

1 - go to a Carphone Warehouse store the next day to get a SIM Card or
2 - order a free 3 SIM and have it sent to my hotel

Carphone Warehouse https://www.carphonewarehouse.com/si...sort/relevance seems to have better deals than what is listed on https://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/compare/sim_only_deals/ . Are they pretty good?

It seems 3's data is more expensive than others but I don't think I will use it that much anyway. It might be cheaper to just go with the 3, 2, 1?

Thanks.

Last edited by username; Nov 10, 18 at 6:16 pm
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Old Nov 11, 18, 2:18 am
  #468  
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SIMs will be available in almost every petrol (gas) station, sweet/newspaper shops, convenience stores, big brand "express" stores, probably the arrival terminal depending where you are flying into, and more besides. Lycamobile, Lebara, are typically popular for a couple of days, you will be spoilt for choice as we have a lot of MVNO operators all offering deals. I am on the 3 network and don't have any issues with service in London, but then again I have been with Virgin, O2, Vodafone, and the only one I have had issues with is Vodafone (which is my work phone so am not really fussed) but in London you will be able to pick up free wifi at the usual places. You may want to go for one that allows you to top-up using a voucher or paypal as sometimes the "foreign credit card, foreign address" does not work with all vendors. Usually you can get around it by buying a topup voucher on the card and use it that way but sometimes it can be an issue online. The wiki may have more information that is useful for you too.
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Old Nov 11, 18, 10:04 am
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Thank you. People say outlets at LHR are over-priced so I am trying to avoid that.

I ordered a card from 3 - let's see if it gets delivered. Otherwise, I guess I can check out a near-by petro station rather than trying to find the nearest Carphone Warehouse.

I survived 5 days in Tokyo without mobile service so I am sure it can be managed in London also - especially there is a lot less language barrier.
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Old Nov 11, 18, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by username View Post
Thank you. People say outlets at LHR are over-priced so I am trying to avoid that.

I ordered a card from 3 - let's see if it gets delivered. Otherwise, I guess I can check out a near-by petro station rather than trying to find the nearest Carphone Warehouse.

I survived 5 days in Tokyo without mobile service so I am sure it can be managed in London also - especially there is a lot less language barrier.
SIMs and top-ups from WH Smith at LHR, for example, cost the same as they do anywhere else.
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Old Nov 11, 18, 1:04 pm
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Thanks. Looks like there is one at Arrivals in T2: https://www.heathrow.com/shops-and-r...ps-a-z/whsmith

Also found: prepaid SIM-buy at Heathrow or wait - I guess avoid the vending machines but WH Smith is OK.
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Old Nov 21, 18, 4:51 pm
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Just want to share my experience. I checked the WH Smith, vending machine and other outlets at LHR T2. WH Smith' cheapest SIM with plan was 20 GBP but also had the 3 card for 1.99 GBP (minimum voucher is 10 GBP). Since I am cheap, I decided to wait. In town, there was no price at Tesco for the 3 card and the guy only charged me for the voucher.

3's website is not very stable - I had multiple problems registering. However, the phone side of things worked fine. I did have to change the APN.

I decided on the 1,2,3 plan where the credit never expires as long as you use it once every 6 months. Every time you add a voucher, you get 150 MB free for the first 48 hours!

Interesting enough, unlike the pre-paid in US and Canada, Wifi calling works. So, I wonder if it will work when I am outside UK. Otherwise, I have to come back just to keep my credit going

It is incredible how inexpensive mobile service is here.
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Old Nov 22, 18, 1:30 am
  #473  
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Originally Posted by username View Post
Just want to share my experience. I checked the WH Smith, vending machine and other outlets at LHR T2. WH Smith' cheapest SIM with plan was 20 GBP but also had the 3 card for 1.99 GBP (minimum voucher is 10 GBP). Since I am cheap, I decided to wait. In town, there was no price at Tesco for the 3 card and the guy only charged me for the voucher.

3's website is not very stable - I had multiple problems registering. However, the phone side of things worked fine. I did have to change the APN.

I decided on the 1,2,3 plan where the credit never expires as long as you use it once every 6 months. Every time you add a voucher, you get 150 MB free for the first 48 hours!

Interesting enough, unlike the pre-paid in US and Canada, Wifi calling works. So, I wonder if it will work when I am outside UK. Otherwise, I have to come back just to keep my credit going

It is incredible how inexpensive mobile service is here.
I use 3 In Touch app for wifi calling as my phone does not have vanilla wifi calling. When travelling outside the UK that has never worked for me so I will be interested to see what your experience is.

And yes, all my American friends are amazed at the cost and the many choices of locations you can get a SIM/plan without having to sign in to speak to an "adviser" (ATT), get a hard upsell (ATT), pay a premium if you buy it in San Francisco (ATT), and have a policeman on the door to stop the homeless coming in (well most of them, one slipped through and was asleep in the store) (ATT). But apart from that the play was quite good
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Old Nov 26, 18, 7:37 am
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Wifi-calling did not connect. I then put the phone off the airplane mode and it got onto T-Mobile. Once airplane mode was disabled, it still did not get Wifi-Calling.

I did not think the 1,2,3 plan would be ale to do international roaming. I wonder if the rates are the usual rates or much higher. For the USA, it is the same as in UK according to their website. For Canada, it is very very expensive.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by username View Post
I wonder if the rates are the usual rates or much higher. For the USA, it is the same as in UK according to their website. For Canada, it is very very expensive.
My understanding of their rates is that calls within the EU and to the UK from "At Home Abroad" countries outside the EU are at the UK rate but calls to other numbers, such as a US number while outside the UK, are much more expensive.
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Old Nov 26, 18, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by MADPhil View Post
My understanding of their rates is that calls within the EU and to the UK from "At Home Abroad" countries outside the EU are at the UK rate but calls to other numbers, such as a US number while outside the UK, are much more expensive.
It is clear that this is the case if you have the add-ons. However, I can't tell if this is still the case with the base 1,2,3 prepaid without any add-on. I guess I will give it a try in 6 months as I need to do that to keep my SIM active....
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Old Nov 26, 18, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by username View Post
It is clear that this is the case if you have the add-ons. However, I can't tell if this is still the case with the base 1,2,3 prepaid without any add-on. I guess I will give it a try in 6 months as I need to do that to keep my SIM active....
I think the point is that any add-ons you have will be used. There is an odd mention of data being more expensive if you don't have an add-on but I haven't looked into it.
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Old Dec 9, 18, 10:53 pm
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Since it's been a while(> 4 years) since I've purchased a UK Sim Card(last time I went to the UK in 2016 T-Mobile USA had free *FULL* speed roaming, so no need), I need advice. I'll be in Europe for 2.5 weeks(one of which is a roadtrip in the EU(Netherlands/Germany/France/Belgium)).

I'm thinking either giffgaff (with a 20GBP goody bag), or Three with either the 20 or 25GBP add on. My friend and his wife(who I'm going to be with most of this trip) are on 3. Anyone have any experience using giffgaff? Should I stick with 3?
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Old Dec 10, 18, 12:55 am
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giffgaff is an MVNO on O2. I've seen lots of complaints about giffgaff, so if your only other option is 3, you should probably go with 3. Last time I was in the UK (which was also on T-Mo with full speed roaming at the time in 2016), the service on 3 was alright, but I had better speeds with EE (formerly T-Mobile UK). I don't know how good the service will be roaming in the EU on a UK SIM though, as I was still on my T-Mobile US SIM when I was there.

When I was in Belgium, I roamed onto Proximus, which was pretty decent. Orange was unusable.

When I was in Germany, I was on T-Mobile DE, and in the Netherlands, I was on T-Mobile NL, both of which were superb.

I'm not sure if any UK operators may lock you out of any networks while elsewhere in the EU, but you shouldn't run into any problems with roaming as the EU has "Roam like you're at home" rules on roaming so there are no additional roaming charges or rates.

Last edited by diburning; Dec 10, 18 at 1:02 am
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Old Dec 10, 18, 2:36 am
  #480  
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I used to be with giffgaff when they were younger. Now I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole. I'm with 3, speeds are just fine for me whenever I roam, mainly used for maps, reading the news, whatsapp, and that's about it.
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