Cancel Your Phone Line (Part 2)

8/9/2013 9:21:40 AM

If I use a dongle or personal hotspot, can I make phone calls?

No. You will need a separate phone. However, internet phone calls via Skype or other VoIP services can be made if the contract allows this.

Can I keep my existing landline number?

No. Landline phone numbers can’t be transferred to a mobile service.

Can I still use BBC iPlayer and YouTube?

Yes, although a good connection speed is important for streaming high-definition (HD) videos from iPlayer or other video-streaming services. This could be a problem for people in areas of poor reception.

Can I still use BBC iPlayer and YouTube?

Can I still share my printer over the network?

Yes. Those with wireless printers can connect via Wi-Fi. USB printers connected to a computer can still be shared as long as the computer is connected to the home network. To share a USB printer connected to a router, you’ll need to buy a suitable 3G-capable router.

Do I need any special software or extra security tools?

No. From a computer or gadget’s point of view, the internet connection is just the same as the existing broadband.

The best 3G deals

In this section, we’ll take a look at the best deals from the UK’s main mobile networks. A cursory glance at some of the deals would have you believe that many tariffs include unlimited data deals, but check the small print and often you’ll find that tethering is not allowed, or costs extra. Without exception, tethering is limited to pay- monthly contracts, even for SIM-only deals.

Capped data deals may be suitable for light or irregular users of the internet, but you’ll need to be very careful to avoid data charges that may be levied for exceeding the cap.

The cheapest deals are generally limited to a couple of basic phone models, but for tethering the make and model doesn’t really matter. Indeed, you could grab a free phone on a contract and use it solely for the purpose of tethering, using it in place of a router.

Those preferring (or needing) to use a USB dongle or personal hotspot won’t find any unlimited deals, but there are some with useful data allowances - up to 20GB per month. These do tend to work out much more expensive than phone-based deals, though. Pay-as-you-go (PAYG) deals are expensive and not cost-effective for tethering purposes.

Smartphone deals

At first glance, mobile broadband deals seem more expensive than landline-based broadband. The 20GB 4GEE deal from EE (, for example, costs $115, and needs 4G coverage - which still has limited UK coverage. However, the cost per gigabyte ($5.90) is actually much less than the best capped 3G deal, which is Orange’s 8GB The Works 51 plan ( This costs $75 or $9.9 per gigabyte. In both cases, deals with basic free phones are available.

T-Mobile doesn’t allow tethering on new unlimited Full Monty plans or even capped deals, Virgin Mobile ( doesn’t allow tethering at all, and Vodafone’s best offer is the measly 4GB Red plan (, at $70 a month, although it does allow unlimited data for the first three months.

The shining star is Three’s The One Plan ( This package offers a completely unlimited tethering tariff with no fair-use policy. One Plan contracts come with a choice of free smartphone and start at an affordable $37.9 per month.

Three’s The One Plan is great value and offers tethering with completely unlimited data

Three’s The One Plan is great value and offers tethering with completely unlimited data

SIM-only deals

If you already own a suitable smartphone, then a SIM-only plan could be ideal. Those with a smartphone locked to a different network will need to check with the original phone company to see if it can be unlocked. This may cost money - typically around $30.

Again, Three’s The One Plan SIM-only deal is the clear winner, with a truly unlimited option and a $37.9 per month charge. It also includes 2,000 minutes of any-network calls and 5,000 text (SMS) messages. It’s absolutely the one to get, if coverage is available in your area - Three says it offers 97% coverage of the UK population.

EE’s 20GB SIM-only plan is $22.9 cheaper than the phone bundle, but you’ll need to factor in buying a SIM-free 4G phone. Orange’s Panther SIM-only plans include tethering, but they only go up to 1GB of data.

EE’s 4G services are fast, but expensive - and coverage is very limited

EE’s 4G services are fast, but expensive - and coverage is very limited

T-Mobile does allow tethering on SIM-only deals if the $15 Extra Internet 1.5GB option is chosen, making the cost of the cheapest package $30.75. File-sharing services are blocked, though.

3G dongles and personal hotspot deals

There are unfortunately no unlimited deals for dongles or personal hotspots. However, there are some relatively attractive capped deals. The best is Three’s 15GB deal costing $23.99 for its Standard dongle or Web Cube, or $28.99 for its Value Mi-Fi, making it an option in the case of regular light internet use - for our comments and further details on these devices. Extra data charges are crazy, though, at 10p per megabyte - that’s $150 per gigabyte.

The next best deal is from EE, where a dongle or hotspot costs $38.99 for 8GB. However, very light users on a budget could save more than $288 on BT’s broadband and line rental prices with T-Mobile’s 5GB deal for $22.9 a month. 02 charges up front for its dongles and personal hotspots, so they’re not a particularly attractive option.

Key points

·         Cancel your landline, switch to unlimited 3G mobile broadband and save up to $108 a year

·         Save on installation fees, with no upfront costs

·         Share mobile broadband via Wi-Fi from a smartphone or tablet

·         Take broadband with you when moving house or office

·         Keep an existing wired home network

·         Speeds can be as good as or even better than many traditional broadband services

Turn your 3G phone or tablet into a home Wi-Fi router

Many smartphones and tablets can share their 3G internet connection via Wi-Fi, creating a new wireless network. Other devices can connect to it using the new network name (SSID) and password.

For Android, version 2.2 (Froyo) or later is needed. The precise method will vary from phone to phone but essentially you need to tap the Apps (or Applications) icon, followed by Settings, then Wireless & Networks. Now tap Tethering & Portable Hotspot followed by Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot to turn it on. Then tap Configure Wi-Fi Hotspot. Create a name, choose a security level and create a password.

For iPhones with iOS version 4.0 onwards on an iPhone 3GS or later, or an iPad 3 or later, tap Settings on the Home screen, then tap General, then Cellular Data (or Mobile Data), then Personal Hotspot. Move the slider to On, then tap Wi-Fi Password to create a password.

On Windows Phone 7 or 8, open the Apps list (swipe to the left on the Start screen), tap Settings then tap Internet Sharing. Set the slider to On, then configure the name and password by tapping Setup. The network’s name goes in the Broadcast name box. Tap the Done arrow when finished.

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