Sim only unlimited data options - is Lycamobile really as bad as reviews suggest?

Greenfingers

Standard Member
Our Plusnet ADSL2+ broadband cannot keep up with our family's demands. On a good day, we get up to 5Mb/s download speeds, but have been experiencing multiple dropouts and unusable speeds daily for over 6 months. After 8 engineer visits, I have given up on getting a stable line and Openreach currently have no plans to upgrade to fibre.

After checking 4g download speeds on our mobile phones, I came up with the following averages for the four network providers:-
EE 22Mb/s
3 19Mb/s
O2 52Mb/s
Vodafone not tested

We currently use about 30Gb of data per month, but this is likely to increase if the kids start watching Netflix etc. If we could get unlimited data on a 4g connection, then surely it makes sense to ditch the ADSL completely?

There are a few 4g unlimited data deals at around £20/month, but it looks like we would get by far the fastest service on the O2 network (I haven't tested Vodafone yet, but their speed estimate was 20-30Mb/s). Current sim only, monthly contract offers form the 4 providers using the O2 network are:-
Sky £20/month 20Gb cap
Tesco £20/month 50Gb cap
Giffgaff £25/month 80Gb cap
Lycamobile £20/month unlimited

So on paper, it looks like Lycamobile are a clear winner, but my main question is can anyone here comment on their service? The reviews I have read tend to be horrendous, but does that mean I should steer clear?

Thanks in advance.
 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
What about Voxi endless data which allows tetherering?
Thanks for letting me know.

I'm new to the idea of 4g broadband, but it was suggested to me by Ofcom when I enquired about the USO that BT recently adopted (Universal Service Obligation to provide broadband speeds of at least 10Mb/s). It seems that a lot of people are using this now instead of a landline.

Voxi, Talkmobile and Lebara all use the Vodafone network. Perhaps I should get a cheap PAYG sim to test the speed we could get here. So far, O2 seem to be by far the quickest for 4g, which is why I was curious about Lycamobile.
 

gibbletts

Active Member
I’m currently using 3 for similar reasons to you which for £17 a month including the router is pretty good I think for unlimited data. I found the lowest I get is around 10-15 mb but normally around 25mb up to 40-50 mb.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
Just read that Lycamobile don't allow tethering, which presumably means you can't use their sim in a 4g router.
That's out of date information. Providers are not allowed to restrict your choice of device, Ofcom clarified that a couple of years ago.

We were in the same situation last year and went for 3G mobile broadband (sometimes 4G from a further away tower when the weather is right). It's OK but speed goes up and down a lot compared to a landline. The evening is the best time for a speed test.

It's worse than a landline, but it's a reasonable option in cases like this where no decent landline connection is available.
 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
That sounds promising. I think it makes sense to get a 30 day contract in the first instance, to see how well it works and get a feel for how much data we actually use. I might try calling Lycamobile tomorrow and ask for clarification on this bit of their terms:-

"Lycamobile reserves the right to withdraw or suspend the offer or to disconnect you if we suspect that offer is being used for commercial purposes, for conferencing, or if it is not being used in a handset (in a SIM box for example), if it is being used for tethering or if any reason Lycamobile reasonably suspects that you are not acting in accordance with this policy where we consider that the usage was illegitimate. Promotional period: The offer is valid from 10-04-2020"
 

daneccles

Active Member
Uswitch quotes Three at £18pm for a 1 year sim only contract with unlimited everything and is the one I use with a Huawei B525 router. The price is due to go up by 50p in May. An alternative if you don't want to commit to a year is Smarty, also on Three's network, is £20 pm on a rolling 1 month contract.
I called them to get my sim and they didn't care what device I put it in. The most I've downloaded in a month is about 400gB but I've heard of others downloading higher amounts without complaint..
On a good day I've got about 80mb/s down and 30mb/s up but it's highly variable, especially during the current lockdown with download speeds as low as 20mb/s. In their favour they do seem to prioritise streaming over downloads and BBC iPlayer works fine in HD without buffering problems even at peak times.
 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
I don't want to commit to any contract for more than a month until I have a good idea what speeds I'll be getting.

To try out the Vodafone network, I ordered a £4.95 SIM card from Lebara, which arrived today. Unfortunately, when I put it in a phone, the signal was worse than all the other networks, so now I know that Vodafone isn't any good for me.

We don't get very good speeds from 3 either, with EE slightly better, but O2 way better.
 

PRESSTOG

Well-known Member
Lycamobile is going to be useless for you the unlimited is a smokescreen,

Hidden in the terms is that after 9gb usage a month speed is then restricted to128kbps.

So unlimited but at Dialup IDSN Speeds

Lycamobile has launched an unlimited data plan which costs £20 per month and also gives you unlimited minutes and texts. Speeds are capped after the first 9GB of usage per month to just 128kbps, which is only around 5-10% of normal 4G speeds.
 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
Thanks for pointing that out - I hadn't spotted it.

Lycamobile has launched an unlimited data plan which costs £20 per month and also gives you unlimited minutes and texts. Speeds are capped after the first 9GB of usage per month to just 128kbps, which is only around 5-10% of normal 4G speeds.
The best data allowance on the O2 network seems to be with Giffgaff, who also offer an unlimited data package, but after you have used 80GB, that too is throttled down to IDSN speeds.

I was wrong earlier, saying we use about 30GB/month (Plusnet have removed their usage checking facility, so I had to ask them for the figures) and it turns out we actually use over 200GB/month!

I don't believe there are currently any 4g packages which will satisfy my requirements. However, it does look like LTE broadband is becoming more viable and presumably when 5g starts to roll out, things will improve drastically.
 

PRESSTOG

Well-known Member
I would not rule out Three til lyou have tried it with a PAYG sim or something similar

I am over 1.5miles from the tower and with the router in an upstairs window still get a solid 80Mbps down and 30Mbps up on 4G ( I use a cheap £10 external antenna from Amazon connected to the router) which has not increased speeds much but made it stable.

Often use between 1 and 2 Tb a month with them and never had any issues at all, all for £16 a month is a bargain, but it really does depend on your location and cell load so need to try it for a week or so on PAYG first.

Ant1.jpg

Ant2.jpg

Ant3.jpg
 

barryc808

Member
+1 For lowmans100 recommendation of Voxi. They have no contract and currently have (unofficially) unlimited data on all plans. So you could test drive their service on the cheapest plan at £10/month:


There is discussion about this unlimited data glitch here:

 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
Well, our Plusnet broadband download speeds have been regularly dropping below 1Mb/s over the last week, so I took Presstog's advice and signed up to a 30 day rolling contract with unlimited data at £30/month with Three. This is £10 more than Smarty, but here's the thing: they also give you a Huawei B535 router for just £29!

Before ordering, I checked with Three customer services whether you get to keep the router at the end of the contract and they said yes! So all in all, I think this is a cracking deal.

The router and SIM arrived today, and I'm amazed to report that we are currently getting speeds of around 18Mb/s, which is way better than we ever achieved on the landline!

What's more, the router appears to be unlocked, because it also works with an O2 SIM. This really does seem to be a great deal, which has solved my immediate internet problems. The logical thing to do would be to switch over to the Smarty unlimited data plan next month, but I have already signed up to an 18 month fibre contract with Gigaclear which is hopefully going to be installed in a month or so.

Anyway, happy days and thanks for all your help.
 

Greenfingers

Standard Member
If the fibre contract hasn't been fulfilled, can you cancel it?
Yes that is an option, but the majority opinion seems to be that fibre is going to provide the most reliable, fast service. The package from Gigaclear is supposed to provide an average of 100Mb/s download and upload, which would be a revelation for us. Also, the demand for high speed internet from our family of five seems to be ever increasing, so I think it's time to start paying for a decent service. Having said that, if the fibre installation get postponed or cancelled, at least we now have a working solution for the time being.
 

phuk7777

Novice Member
Lycamobile is going to be useless for you the unlimited is a smokescreen,

Hidden in the terms is that after 9gb usage a month speed is then restricted to128kbps.

So unlimited but at Dialup IDSN Speeds

Lycamobile has launched an unlimited data plan which costs £20 per month and also gives you unlimited minutes and texts. Speeds are capped after the first 9GB of usage per month to just 128kbps, which is only around 5-10% of normal 4G speeds.
Can you tell us where you saw that? I can see the 9GB cap on the "Forever Data" plan but the "UK Plan Unlimited" plan doesn't mention it in the terms.
 

daneccles

Active Member
Siting of your LTE router can be critical with even a few inches making a difference. If you are in a Three 4G+ area you should be able to get much better speeds than 18mb/s. Find out the location of your nearest tower and site the router best able to pick it up. Higher is usually better. The LTE monitoring prgram LTE Inspecteur (note spelling) enables you to try different mobile bands for best data speeds which are not necessarily that giving the best signal strength.
 

phuk7777

Novice Member
Siting of your LTE router can be critical with even a few inches making a difference. If you are in a Three 4G+ area you should be able to get much better speeds than 18mb/s. Find out the location of your nearest tower and site the router best able to pick it up. Higher is usually better. The LTE monitoring prgram LTE Inspecteur (note spelling) enables you to try different mobile bands for best data speeds which are not necessarily that giving the best signal strength.
Yes, I saw that, as I said. The unlimited plan is a different one. It's called

Left hand side under forever data
Yes, I saw that, as I said. The unlimited plan is a different one. It's called " UK Plan Unlimited (£20/month)", so maybe that one's ok - it has no mention of a limit. I'm tempted to try for a month and see, when I get my 4G router and free myself from the shackles of 3Mb Plusnet broadband ;) I'll post back here with the results, if I do.
 

EndlessWaves

Distinguished Member
When I get my 4G router and free myself from the shackles of 3Mb Plusnet broadband ;)
I would go down the USO route first if you haven't already. If you can get an FTTP install funded then that's a much better option than mobile broadband.
 

phuk7777

Novice Member
Thanks - I'll see what happens when I request that (I've already expressed interest through the OpenReach site)), but the cost is going to be way more than £3400 . Fibre isn't coming to the hamlet I live in any time soon. Putting my postcode in the BT USO tool just comes back with "Great News! You could get a faster connection with mobile broadband and our 4G Hub" This is particularly galling as only the O2 4G network gives a good service here. I've been using my Giffgaff phone as a hotspot to work from home since lockdown, and this is far more reliable and 10x the bandwidth of the Plusnet broadband connection :O
 

phuk7777

Novice Member
Quick update. I got a Lycamobile SIM with the 'UK Plan Unlimited' after their support said it was fine to put in a router. That plan is £20 a month for unlimited data for the first 3 months, £25/month thereafter. I stuck it in a TP-Link MR6400 and it's working fine so far with speeds as expected and multiple devices attached to the router. Time will tell.....
 

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