back to article Two's company, Three's unbowed: You Brits will pay more for MMS snaps

Mobile operator Three UK is celebrating the approach of British summer by, er, hiking its charges for some of its services. A reader tipped off The Register to the changes at the CK Hutchison subsidiary, which will hit customers who go outside their allowance or who fancy a play on some of Three's additional services. The …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Pure concidence...

    ...I tell you!


    1. tfewster

      Re: Pure concidence...

      And a continuation of the scam. Last time I looked, my telco charged 25p for an SMS and 50p for an MMS out side of the bundled SMS allowance.

      Me: OK, just charge me for 2 SMS's if I send an MMS.

      Telco: Oh no, we can't do that as an MMS is data!

      Me: Fine, take it out of my data allowance then.

      Telco: Oh no, we can't do that as it's a message!

      OK, maybe I'm missing something, but I'm surprised the EU hasn't looked into this.

  2. Lee D Silver badge


    The only thing I have Three for is data, as the only other people who do a decent mobile broadband allowance are Vodafone and they're too stupid to post me a SIM when I ask for it, but then won't let me sign up with my details again to request another.

    And every time Three adds incentives to stop people using traditional services and "use your data instead", it suggests that they need to increase their data allowances even further.

    But then, I only ever do month-to-month contracts, because I can then just swap out the SIM any time I like without arguing over what is a "material change to the contract".

    Honestly, though... if someone sells a 100Gb 4G SIM on pay-monthly that allows tethering for that full amount... someone shout, because I haven't found one. The 100Gb packages on Virgin don't say they allow tethering and their own "mobile broadband" SIMs only go up to 10Gb. Vodafone does a 50Gb one but are incompetent. Three do 40Gb. Everyone else (Giffgaff, O2, EE, etc.) has silly "unlimited (***********)" clauses or don't allow the full amount of data for tethering (which is what mobile broadband is considered as).

    1. nigel 15

      No networks offer unlimited out 'unlimited' data.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        For mobile broadband, correct. For phones? There are plenty of "unlimited" deals.

        "1 month Advanced plan

        All-you-can-eat minutes

        All-you-can-eat texts

        30GB Personal Hotspot"

        £20 goodybag

        Always On*



        What they all have, though is tethering limits (e.g. the 30Gb hotspot thing above). But on a phone, it's easy to get an "unlimited*" setup. That unlimited* isn't actually unlimited is a minor point in comparison to not being able to go over 50Gb on ANY 4G PROVIDER for mobile broadband no matter how much you're willing to pay.

    2. Joe Harrison

      Have you tried doing some "tethering" (hate the word telcos invented) and then checking the network's view of your data-used figures? I rarely tether but when I do it doesn't subtract from my theoretical tethering allowance. This is as you would expect surely - how can they tell?

      Mind you I am SIM-only and not using a phone supplied by the network and running their own software.

      1. disco_stu

        I tethered my ipad to my phone whilst I was on holiday in Italy, I got a text message within a few minutes telling me to stop tethering. This was on Three, I think you can't tether from phone to another device outside the UK.

      2. djack

        I had that same situation. It is likely a 'problem' with the configuration or provisioning of your SIM. I also thought it was because I was using a non-network phone. However, the last time I bought a new handset I needed to migrate to a nano sim. I made the mistake of getting a replacement sim (free and pretty much instant process in the local store). Ever since then it has been properly registering 'tethered' traffic.

    3. Kevin Johnston

      I got a MiFi (?) unit from 3 and that has a 100GB per month allowance and has both wifi and an ethernet port....That what you were looking for?

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Find the 100Gb Mifi offer on Three. It used to be available, but it's not been around for ages.

        40Gb is the most they do for anything in terms of HomeFi, MiFi or tethering.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "don't allow the full amount of data for tethering"

      I've never understood...

      a) how they know if you are "tethering" or not

      b) why it matters anyway.

      You pay for, say 10GB of data, why should they care or need to know how you use it?

    5. the spectacularly refined chap

      Honestly, though... if someone sells a 100Gb 4G SIM on pay-monthly that allows tethering for that full amount... someone shout, because I haven't found one.

      I haven't looked at the entire market but I'd be very surprised if you can't do that: I was looking at Smarty the other day (rejected when I saw they were on Three) and I could get 100Gb for £130/month. Not all inclusive, i.e. you'd need plenty of top up data, but so what, the option is there.

      If, on the other hand that is a bit rich for you consider your requirements. 100Gb data is a huge amount for mobile: don't forget we are talking about a finite and shared resource. Bandwidth you use is bandwidth unavailable to another subscriber.

      The attitude reminds me of the other classes of self-obsessed broadband needers - the ones demanding FTTP for themselves and to hell with the problems of e.g. cabinet placement. "Me want faster broadband. So what if we need to effectively brick up my neighbour's front window for me to get it."

      It doesn't work like that. Like it or not the operators are not being unrealistic when they look at the impact of such demands on their network and other subscribers and saying "Actually, we'd really rather not have you on our network."

      So yes, the options are there if there is a real need for them. However in nine times out of ten when I see "needs" like this it isn't road warriors touring the country and with business-critical needs for bandwidth. Rather it is someone cheap enough they don't want to pay for home broadband on top. The technology simply isn't there: the unreasonable element is your demands rather than the operators.

      1. lybad

        "I was looking at Smarty the other day (rejected when I saw they were on Three)"

        They're not just on Three, they ARE Three. If you look through the FAQs they are 100% owned by Three.

  3. nigel 15

    Maximizing profits

    I expect this is still the way the network can extract the most money from the market.

    There's clearly a hardcore of people, who can't or won't switch to the likes of WhatsApp. Your parents basically. And they'll pay whatever.

    The alternative would be to reduce the cost an increase the volume.

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: Maximizing profits

      Whatsapp = Giving FaecesBook your mobile number. No thanks!


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Maximizing profits

        Rather than Whatsapp, Signal? Annon obvs

        1. PhilBuk

          Re: Maximizing profits



        2. Soruk

          Re: Maximizing profits

          Google Hangouts?


  4. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Crazy Prices

    How can they justify those costs? On our corporate contract, we getting less than 5ppm to UK numbers (some are even free). How can 3 charge ten times more to a consumer? Surely the monopolies people should be investigating this price gouging?

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Crazy Prices

      When I first got a 3 contract I got hit with some charges. I think I sent a text to two people at once, something like that. And replied to a message with a photo, forgetting it was SMS not Watsapp they'd sent to me. After that I simply blocked any out-of-contract use.. Stuff 'em. These charges are just exploitation - an excuse to charge extra on the same service. I'm on a month-by-month contract. I'll switch after the Summer ( their definition of "Europe" for charging purposes is convenient). Trouble is they're all a bunch of ganefs. But I'll look around.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crazy Prices

      They can't gouge for roaming in Europe now, so they're trying to find another "outside of usual operation" excuse to gouge. No surprise, surely?

      1. Thicko

        Re: Crazy Prices

        They cant gouge you for EU roaming at the moment but gougers being gougers I don't fancy it remaining free for long after next March!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crazy Prices

      A standard contract is £14 for 300 minutes of calls plus texts plus data

      ...if you used it all for phone calls it works out as 4.6ppm ... that's how they justify the crazy consumer prices, they aren't crazy, they're cheaper.

    4. tip pc Silver badge

      Re: Crazy Prices

      My missus is paying £9 per month for unlimited minutes and text plus 4gb data and in,United streaming for music I pay £11pm for the same. We have mms turned off on our phones and use WhatsApp or iMessage for sending pics.

      Certainly beats your 5ppm and we never incur out of bundle charges.

  5. JimboSmith Silver badge

    I've (to the best of my knowledge) never sent an MMS in my life and I don't intend to start now. The alternatives are many (email, WhatsApp, BBM etc.) and the availability of WiFi + cheap data (even abroad via Feel at home) good. Three won't be getting anything from this out of me but they remain a good deal for me in other areas.

    1. Dr_N

      Some phones convert sms to mms on-the-fly without you knowing it.

  6. Franco

    Been with 3 a while and they're better than most for service, but the forced price increases are getting silly.

    I've not had a notification of this one, so it might not affect my contract but mostly use WhatsApp anyway these days.

    If I could find someone offering no contract SIM only with just a little bit more data I'd switch, sadly the only other provider with a similar deal is BT and I'm not going there ever again.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Shareholders are a liability, and not an asset.

    Get rid of the shareholders leeching off your customers, and look after your customers, then you'll see profits go up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get rid of the shareholders

      You don't really understand how companies work, do you?

      A company can't just tell it's shareholders to f*** off into the sunset - they'd need to buy those shares back...and where, pray tell, is the money going to come from to do that?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        where, pray tell, is the money going to come from to do that?

        From a bank, and subject to interest.

        Personally I'd prefer to pay a dividend to shareholders than interest to a bank. At least there's some hope the money is going into someone's pension, not a w^Hbanker's Porsche.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          "From a bank, and subject to interest."

          You can't force them to sell, and if they know your intentions then they may just hold out for a higher share price. Alternatively, they may just kick you out at the next AGM.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get rid of the shareholders leeching off your customers, and look after your customers, then you'll see profits go up.

      I'm hoping that's sarcasm. On the internet is never pays to assume anything.

    3. Paul Shirley

      Shareholders are the owners, the company is their asset.

  8. S4qFBxkFFg

    My theory is there are too many people leaving, and they're trying to get more out of the ones that remain - I got out about a week ago, after several years (mainly due to lack of signal where needed). The customer service was never great, but trying to get a PAC was frustrating: "...I assure you that you will have similar problems with other networks..." with a generalised bad attitude about me having the effrontery to shun the excellence that is Three.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      trying to get a PAC was frustrating

      I've found the same with Orange, Vodafone and O2. It's the old AOL trick, of trying to make it so hard to escape that some people either give up or put it off.

      And with Ofcom continuing its miserable failure to defend customer interests under its latest lacklustre boss, why would the MNO's worry? The only silver lining is that "diversity" enthusiasts will be pleased that Sharon White is demonstrating that she's every bit the useless lickspittle as much as her male predecessors.

  9. zaax

    All said and done Three's PAYG 1p/meg is cheaper than another 2 telcos

  10. disco_stu

    I don't think I can remember the last time I sent an MMS, it has to be in the proto smartphone era when I had an N95 so about 10 years ago.

    1. Jason 24

      I did, by mistake, a little while ago, orange/ee/bt/whoeverthefuck charged me 50-sodding-P.

      Next time it went via whatsapp and they got feck all for it.

      As for the massive jump in calls outside the EU, well someone has to subsidise the loss of charges from the EU setting the roam at home stuff up. Great for those in the EU, not so great for those outside clearly.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Phone usage outside Europe

        The costs are and always have been a bit silly.

        That's why there are dual sim phones.

        In most places (India excepted) it is easy to get a local SIM.

        Even Apple is reported to be working on a Dual Sim iPhone.

  11. tiggity Silver badge


    I always use email or post imge online rather than using MMS on 3 to avoid any costs outside my montly deal. I only keep it as I'm on an ol (no longer available) deal with unlimited data very cheap.

    I wonder if 3 are liable on a "3 branded" phone if the phone converts emojis to mms images? After all ikt is obviously in 3's interests if that behaviour occurs and arguably a responsible network would ensure their branded phones did NOT do that...

    1. Ian 70

      Re: mms

      I used to have one of those then they forcibly ended it and tried to move me to something that cost 50% more and has a limited data allowance.

      I jumped ship and went monthly contracts with various people since then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: mms

        I have a 3 monthly rolling contract so old, their system couldn't look it up last time I went in to ask a question about roaming.

        As I only pay them £7 a month, I didn't press to hard to have it updated!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just use Three value.....Wuntu

    Been using Three value brand....30 days rolling

    £5 per month - unlimited mins/SMS / data £2.50 per 2 GB

    Double up with a Data only SIM in dual SIM phone - sorted Es and whizz

    Only issue Roaming coming summer

    Also parents on 3/2/1 PAYG with Three - so low usage and no min top up - however this is not being touched

    1. lybad

      Re: Just use Three value.....Wuntu

      I'll assume you're talking about Smarty? The only reason I've not jumped to them yet, is that you have to pay by card rather than DD.

      1. tambo

        Re: Just use Three value.....Wuntu

        Sorry yep meant Smarty.....but yup still get my freebies from Wuntu ;)

        And card over DD any day = cashback

        1. lybad

          Re: Just use Three value.....Wuntu

          That depends on your bank/card of course.

          I get cashback on my DD for utilities including mobile companies - so I get it for my contract, and my daughters.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are cheap and compared to the other options the best compromise. This is just increasing charges for services that they don't want to keep supporting, buy whilst they do support them they hope to catch out a few oldies who still have nokias as it's not going to put off many of their real customers

  14. ad47uk

    They still charge extra for MMS? Wow.

    3 is a waste of time around here, signal is awful in the majority of places around here. Vodafone is the best, but far to expensive and a awful customer service.

    Use pluisnet nyself on the EE network, it does what I need, I do not know if they charge for MMS, but then I do not use MMS, only SMS.

  15. Kyorin

    I'm actually happy with Three, I do have to fight every year for a better deal when my contract is up, but that's just the way things are these days with the companies selling these kinds of services. Currently on £10pm for 8GB data (no tethering), unlimited texts and minutes.

    These changes won't actually affect many people, except for those that consistently go over their allowances, which means they're on the wrong contract anyway.

    I might be wrong about this, but doesn't the receiver also pay when getting pictures via SMS? I thought I read this somewhere. I always tell people to use WhatsApp! if they need to send me pictures...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've been with Three since 2003/4 after having tried O2 and Vodaphone, Orange etc. Their service has only every got cheaper for me every year. I started off at £150 per month, now down to £14 and can reduce that next contract.

    Signals have always been worse inside a building compared to other operators but I think that was because they used a higher frequency signal - not everyone can have the lower bands. When I had no signal in one house I bought an amplifier. Now in this house , if there is a poor signal it auto switches to calls over wifi.

    Combined with BT broadband (with their 5 million + hotspots) the service has been excellent.

    No provider gives everything for nothing with the best service and the technology has it's black holes, poor reception near hills, inside buildings etc but instead of moaning I always find a way of making it very useful.

    I've lived in Northumberland, Bedfordshire and now Lincolnshire - all very rural and the mobile broadband I get has always seemed as good as anyone else's and often better. If I need better signal I just move a street or two in 5 minutes and I have wifi, or of course lean by 43.2 degrees and get a signal.

    The fact is, every operator gets slagged off, every operator advertises they're the best but as we all know mobile phone signals are iffy often, all over the place so just accept it and get around the problem with wifi.

    I really don't understand why half the people here will pay £1000 for an iPhone and then quibble about £20 a month to make it work. So what if the bill goes up by 4%, you just accepted a 50% price rise for the phone. You can avoid all phone charges by using other free messaging services. I had a block put on my account so that my phone will not spend any more money than the monthly amount.

    As techie people we are all used to fiddling about to get technology and software to work, after all that's what a lot of us do to earn money so just do it for the phone. Simples. It's modern life, nothing is perfect, everything goes up in price, everyone rips you off, every gadget goes wrong...get around it and enjoy life :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We don't consider the increase in the cost of Outside of Allowance calls to be a materially detrimental change to your contract," Three offered.

    Yeah? Well I'm making a counteroffer that reduces the cost of my Outside of Allowance calls to zero pence per minute. I don't consider that to be a materially detrimental change to Three either. Continuation of service after receiving notice posted to their head office will constitute acceptance of my terms.

    1. Charles 9

      They'll just offer a counter-counter-offer, and since they're the ones in control of the data tap, they're in Hobson's position.

    2. Adam 52 Silver badge

      It does seem a peculiar position to take, if it's not a material change then presumably if they don't get paid then they won't consider that to be material either.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "It does seem a peculiar position to take,"

        Not when you look at the legal position. If it's a "material" change to the contract then the customers have the right to cancel without penalty. But the law doesn't define what a "material" change is and so it's open to "opinion". They're betting, with good odds of winning, that no one will challenge their "opinion" that it's not a "material" change. By challenge, I mean in a court of law.

        Standard corporate practice. Keep pushing the boundaries until challenged. "Pay off" the challengers with deals or out of court settlements or, if deluged with challenges, back down. At all costs, avoid a legal ruling so you can try it on again with variations next time around.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Which forces a depressing thought. There are suits who deliberately and openly ( at least with each other) are prepared to sit in a meeting and decide to behave in a way that almost all normal ( however that is defined) people would consider outrageously dishonest and disreputable. And somehow these parasites are able to sleep at night, presumably not seeing themselves as being little different from smugglers or fraudsters, other than that the law hasn't found a way to stop them yet. And that these are not even particularly exceptional since Bhopal, the Volkswagen emissions scandal, subprime loans, Tesco's accounting issues, the Ford Pinto and so on seem to suggest that they're all at it in their corporate office towers.

  18. mark l 2 Silver badge

    The 'no tethering' clause that these telcos put on really grinds my gears. If they are advertising I can have x amount of data allowance it shouldn't make a difference how i choose to use it.

    I remember reading up that their are ways around them detecting your tethering anyway, I think if your using some tethering apps rather than the built in tethering they can't detect that. I guess another way is to route all outgoing traffic from your phone through a VPN so then they couldn't see what devices are accessing the internet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The 'no tethering' clause that these telcos put on really grinds my gears.

      Don't worry! Ofcom are investigating this.........

      .....oh, yes. As you were.

  19. Paul

    I just deleted the mms settings

    I just deleted the mms settings off my phone, I'm a three customer. I never use it, and want to ensure I can't accidentally use mms.

    I don't care if I cant receive mms. Also, chances are receiving mms messages is still a security risk.

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