back to article Three UK: Our MMS prices are up. Get around us with WhatsApp or Skype

From next month Three customers are advised to be more selective when sending pics of their food, cats or drunken escapades - as the mobile operator is more than doubling its pricing. Or, you know, you could just use an OTT app. Yes, like the ones that are eating mobile operators' breakfasts with internet voicecalls over Wi-Fi …

  1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Why does the cost of MMS transmission even exist? And if it does, and it's for the same reason that SMS charges exist, why aren't they in a bundle like other countries do?

    Come to think of it, whatever happened to video calling between phones using 3G, touted as a major feature when 3 first started their bad customer service / cellular network?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It was awful. I worked for a phone sex phone system/webcam/etc firm around the time 3g video calling was going to be "the next big thing".

      From memory, the video codec was H263 and the audio was AMR_NB. Both of which are terrible compared to modern codecs. If I remember rightly, the video and audio had to both fit into 128kbps.

      This was a few years ago now, and I'm remembering something that we dropped briefly after finding out how unpopular it was.

    2. bpfh

      1 MMS will cost 40p and contain up to 300 kb...

      So at best, they are billing you £1.37 per meg...

  2. Gavin McMenemy

    And they are trying to cap your data usage too ...

    1. PassiveSmoking

      They are? The main (only?) reason I stick with them is the all-you-can-eat data.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Can I disable MMS?

    since I've never actually wanted to send an MMS...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can I disable MMS?

      It's never been enabled on any of my (Vodafone) work phones.

      1. Leeroy

        Re: Can I disable MMS?

        On Samsung \ Android you can disable MMS in messages, settings, multimedia and set it to restricted, warn or allow.

        Hope it helps :)

    2. Loud Speaker

      Re: Can I disable MMS?

      I am on Three for one reason: you can cap all calls that will cost over your contracted payment: if your contract is £17 per month, you cannot pay more than that. No calls to sex lines, no MMS. And 4G at no extra cost (or, more likely, no 4G at all).

      The other networks refused to do this, although I understand some might have changed their policies recently.

      I have never sent an MMS message intentionally, ever. The entire cocept is, as stated by others, entirely stupid.

      And the Bell Telephone Company discovered video calls were discovered were a technology no one wanted in 1955.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken

        Re: Can I disable MMS?

        "And the Bell Telephone Company discovered video calls...were a technology no one wanted in 1955."

        Indeed. It's not like anybody actually USES Skype.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can I disable MMS?

          Actually, video calls - al la Skype, are becoming more popular with such apps as WeChat, and better, faster mobile coverage/data allowances.

          Plus the fact that, as data, it doesnt matter if the friend you are WeChatting to is in the next town, or on the next continent, you doesnt pay any extra, as long as you doesnt use up your monthly allowance.

          Arthur C Clarke suggested international call charges should be scrapped MANY years ago; and indeed, many companies now ship your call as a free VOIP to save themselves money, even while charging you.

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: Can I disable MMS?

            Another thing we things like WeChat etc, is it does not neccessarily even have to affect your data allowance, there's plenty of places you can leech wifi (legally), especially in some countries. So it becomes a very cheap option once you have a smartphone.

  4. chipxtreme

    I've never sent an MMS in my life! Why do companies charge so much for just sending a couple of kb file when most people get at least a GB data a month included in package?

    1. ZSn

      Because they can?

    2. ARGO


      There's a bunch of extra infrastructure needed to handle MMS that isn't the network's responsibility if you use an OTT app. I guess the idea is to kill the MMS traffic enough that the extra kit can be turned off.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've never sent an MMS in my life!

      Many people have and don't know it. The idiotic decision by the retards at Samsung to send emojis as MMS is a particularly fine example of forcing MMS traffic, along with automatic conversion of long SMS into MMS.

  5. Tom Wood

    Ryanair logic

    Customer: "Why is X so expensive? Surely it doesn't cost you anywhere near that much to provide the service?"

    Ryanair/Three: "Well, you don't have to use X."

    It doesn't really answer the question, even if they are correct that you can generally avoid the charges by jumping through various hoops.

    1. chris 17 Silver badge

      Re: Ryanair logic

      jumping through hoops?

      mms was answer for people who couldn't send an email of the pic they just took on their phone.

      imessage does the same as mms but uses your data so does not incur a specific charge.

  6. Captain Scarlet
    Paris Hilton

    Other reasons?

    Maybe Three are looking to make MMS so unpopular they turn around and say no-one uses it so we are dropping it?

    Although to be fair I only sent one MMS before by mistake, other than that I have never used or wanted to use MMS.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Other reasons?

      Actually three also have an app, which allows you to connect to wifi to make calls or texts, so you can use your home wifi and use up no allowance, but it still comes through as your phone number. Not sure whats going on in Three HQ they have moments that make them seem entirely to reasonable for a phone company.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never a free lunch

    "Customers also have a number of different ways of sending picture messages through free apps and other services in order to avoid MMS charges."

    ...except most of those 'free apps' aren't free. Even ignoring the bandwidth cost, which you always pay for somewhere along the line, you normally end up paying in personal data and loss of privacy to use such apps.

    (I abandoned WhatsApp when it was assimilated by Facebook)

    I get the distinct impression that Three are gradually moving away from the traditional circuit-switched mobile (voice/sms) network to running a pure packet-switched TCP/IP (data) network. Ditching MMS would be an important step in that strategy if my suspicion is right. They have long had an app which provides a voice endpoint over wifi for when you're in a cellular network blackspot.

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge


    Like Capn. Scarlett, I only ever sent one MMS, an error. A few months back I replied to someone with an image they needed. I hadn't noticed that their request had come as a text, not an email. (I was busy ) . So I added the image to my reply. Never gave it moments thought, until I noticed the small additional charge on my bill.

  9. hellwig

    This is tragic

    I didn't realize the infrastructure in the UK was so bad. Do you guys still have flushing toilets? I think you invented those, but if MMS messages are 40p a piece, I can only imagine how much it is per flush!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is tragic

      but if MMS messages are 40p a piece...

      Mobile operators gouge in different ways in different countries. MMS is a nice earner in the UK, but overall our mobile bundle costs tend to be cheaper than the US. I'm not familiar enough with how European operators gouge their customers - although they all used to be at it in respect of roaming charges.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: This is tragic

        Also remember here that the US has a quaintly archaic system that still charges the recipient for messages. So, while it may cost less to send them, I'd be entirely unsurprised to find that when you add the costs at both ends together it suddenly isn't as cheap as it would seem on first look.

        1. NotBob

          Re: This is tragic

          Most of our plans have unlimited messages, SMS and MMS both.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is tragic

      TDIL that the backwards colonies still send MMS in 2016.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

    Maybe us yanks aren't so bad off as we think!

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

      You get charged for incoming calls. In what universe is this a better system?

      1. NotBob

        Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

        I get charged for incoming, but only when it's not from another cell phone. I haven't been over my minutes in a coon's age.

      2. Kar98

        Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

        In the universe where I have unlimited calling anyway, and callers don't need to worry about how much it will cost them to call a number. Is it local? Long distance? Landline or mobile? Same network or another? Who cares, it all costs the same, i.e. it's already been paid for. $40 for unlimited everything is what I pay. Or in UK terms, about 1 MB of data and three and a half MMS.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

      Romania (Eastern Europe, near Russia for you yanks :P ), cable and internet = 12 euro/month. Mobile (unlimited calls/text, 3 Gb full speed, 128kb after) = 15 euro/month.

      You were saying...?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

        I wasn't saying that US broadband/cellular were better than everywhere, just better than the UK and Canada in at least some respects which I've learned to my surprise in the past few days.

        As for getting billed for incoming calls, since almost all cellular plans have a crazy number of minutes or unlimited minutes, that no longer matters. I'd much rather have incoming calls charged against my minutes than pay 40 cents per MMS, that's for damn sure!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

          I'm on three in the UK. For £8 a month I get 300 mins free calls 1gb data. Free roaming in many countries including the us so called and data there come out my allowance. Free freephone numbers and more texts than I could ever physically send. I never fly go out side of these allowances. The only things I additionally have to pay for are premium numbers and MMS messages. Of course I don't need to make premium numbers and can always just use my data and what's app or email to send a photo. In what way are you better off in the us?

          Given all the alternatives to send photos using data MMS is a tech that deserves to die and I'm certain three is pricing it to achieve that aim.

    3. Triggerfish

      Re: Wow, first Canada has worse internet now the UK has worse cellular

      Having worked remotely on a quite a few US sites, up and down the country, and from conversations with techs over there. I would say generally speaking your broadband really sucks for businesses and residential, and is bloody expensive in comparison to the UK.

  11. Shades

    Spokesman be telling porkies!

    A spokesman from Three said: “Our MMS charge remains competitive in comparison to other providers"

    Giff Gaff - Picture messages (MMS) to giffgaff and other mobiles (max 300KB) - 16p per MMS

    1. Loud Speaker

      Re: Spokesman be telling porkies!

      Personally, I would describe completely blocked (see my previous post) as competitive with "16p per MMS".

  12. Jeffrey Nonken

    AFAICT, MMS is also used for group messaging. Though iPhones with iMessage group-messaging only other iPhones with iMessage will apparently revert to iMessage only.

    To clarify -- there seems to be some confusion on the matter -- here in the Colonies our MMS are simply lumped in with data charges, at standard data rates. Yes, we still pay for them, but not at outrageous per-message rates. Waving your hand and saying "either way they still cost you" is a bit disingenuous.

  13. Kar98

    Today I learned...

    ...there are still providers out there that charge per message. Like in the Bronze Ages.

  14. Natasha Live

    This is all due to what they told the EU/OFCOM: They said they would not rise prices after they merge with O2. So look at what they've done pre-merger: Hiked the price for all the customers who were outside of contract, Hiked the cost of MMS, hiked the costs of comparable contracts and removed most of the "all you can eat" internet.


    1. kpanchev

      That's a revenge for EU/OFCOM blocking the merger... Three is showing the middle finger to the regulators - "You did not allow us to buy O2 and keep the prices, so EAT this new price..."

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes perfect sense

    No one uses MMS, but it's a box any operator has to tick, like voice mail*. Putting the price up probably saves them having to fork out for an expensive capacity upgrade.

    * No one uses voice mail, either, except the kind of people who play golf with the chairman and CEO**.

    ** And no, they don't use MMS either.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Makes perfect sense

      Also, cost of having MMS capability will be relatively static (presumably all down to maintaining an MMS gateway plus a little bit of wooden dollars representing network capacity), call it £x.

      Let's say there are y MMS transmissions per year, cost of each one is nominally £x/y. As y goes down, £x/y goes up.

  16. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "From 13 June, the charge for sending multimedia messages will change from 17.4p to 40p per picture or video message with a size limit of 300KB."

    In other words, they want to get rid of it.

    Unlike Vodafone 25 years ago, who doubled the price of SMS messages and then started running a major ad campaign to encourage people to send more of them (which resulted in a fast cheap reliable service getting expensive and sometimes taking 24 hours to deliver messages)

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