Published in MMM Magzine 2019
On the 4th July independence was celebrated not just by Americans but by us motorhomers being able to start our engines again. Even better we can now and critically stay overnight in our vans in previously forbidden lands. As a result, we at Motorhome WiFi have been inundated with calls and e-mails asking for some updated SIM card advice so that our customers can stay connected on the road.
It’s almost universally true that SIM cards and data plans are unique to every customer. While everyone likes a bargain, it’s not always as straight forward as choosing the cheapest network and there are often other factors to consider.
I had an interesting conversation with a customer this week regarding data use. The customer was telling me about his Sky SIM which cost him £25/mth for 25GB of data. To me, £1 per GB on a contract SIM card sounds like terrible value, even if you consider that use of the Sky TV apps doesn’t come out of your allowance.
The customer was excited about the fact his data ‘rolled over’ and was kept for up to 3 years meaning, even though he was paying over the odds for his data, it was HIS data and nobody was going to take it away from him.
We call this data ownership, when a customer views the data they have purchased as a physical possession. Customers often report to us that they monitor and ensure they ‘use up’ any data that is left on their SIM cards towards the end of that data expiry.
Networks know this, of course, which is why the ‘Unlimited Data’ plan has become so popular. When we asked one of our SIM card providers to run a report, we found that customers who purchased the Unlimited plan typically used LESS data then those on a fixed data plan.
If your data plan was a sandwich you bought from Marks and Spencers (my guilty pleasure is coronation chicken!) and you only manage to eat half of it before the other half goes off, you don’t think that you’ve had value for money. As you throw half of the stale sandwich in the bin, you vow to make sure you eat it all next time.
If that data was the food at an ‘all you can’ eat buffet with a 2 hour time limit, you can be sure that A.) you won’t eat as much as you thought you would and B.) as you leave you won’t be looking back at the buffet table wishing you could take some home with you!
Over 12 months our customer would have paid £300 for 300GB of data, just for the privilege of it rolling over. If that customer had a Smarty SIM card, he could have paid £120 for 360GB of data or £240 for Unlimited* (12,000GB fair usage) data.
In addition, on the months where the customer didn’t use the SIM, he could have paused it or changed the packages to a larger/smaller package to suit his requirements.
Not all networks are crafted equally and sometimes it’s difficult to justify what can be huge differences in data costs and contract lengths.
Smarty (Three) presently offer Unlimited data for £18pm (usually £20) on a PAYG non-contract basis. This is great value, especially when you compare it to EE, who presently only offer an Unlimited data plan for £35 on an 18 month contract.
What accounts for the huge difference in cost? EE paid £558m for its share of the 4G airwaves whereas Three paid just £225m. Vodafone paid the most at £780m, but this was largely because it bought the biggest share of the longest range (rather than fastest speed) of 4G signal, meaning it needs far fewer masts to achieve the same coverage.
Even with this knowledge, it’s difficult to justify the difference in cost between the two options of almost £17/mth in addition to a 18 month commitment.
With that in mind, we supply a Smarty (Three) SIM for our customers to get them started. This represents the best value and means that customers can see if Three’s coverage is acceptable for their requirements.
One option we sometimes suggest is to request from EE one of their free PAYG SIM cards (https://shop.ee.co.uk/price-plans/free-sim). These SIM cards have the benefit of being active on receipt, meaning if you end up in an area where Three has no coverage then you can take out your Three SIM and replace it with the EE one. If there is a signal, you will instantly see a connection and while the SIM card doesn’t have any free data if you’re able to get to EE’s topup page (http://add-on.ee.co.uk) in order to register and activate the SIM you can be sure that it will work.
Smarty offer 30GB, 50GB or Unlimited data for £10, £15 or £20. Until the end of July you can sign up to the Unlimited plan for just £18pm which will remain at £18 if you auto-renew each month.
Roaming is limited to 20GB a month and we expect a 2 month EU limit to be enforced more rigorously than on other SIM’s.
Vodafone is presently running a ‘five times data’ promotion which means their previous 3GB, 6GB, 10GB or 20GB plans are now 15GB, 30GB, 50GB or 100GB or £10, £15, £20 or £30.
The benefit with Vodafone is that you can use all of your data abroad, meaning 100GB can be used in Europe without any limitation. The promotion is valid for 3 months once activated. The last date for activation is 16th September meaning the data must be used before 16th December.
EE are presently offering data plans of 8GB, 20GB, 40GB or 60GB for £10, £15, £20 or £30. These are great SIM cards to keep in reserve as EE arguably has the best coverage in the UK.
Since January, EE now offer 50GB of roaming data so can be used abroad.
Are you looking for some further advise on SIM cards and data packages? Contact Motorhome WiFi for more information.
Motorhome WiFi have had a long standing relationship with Huawei and its range of consumer MiFi devices and 4G routers.
Together we have kept tens of thousands of customers reliably connected in leisure vehicles across Europe for work, pleasure and streaming TV services.
Huawei produce what are in our experience the most reliable and easy to use devices on the market, this has allowed us to lead the way in leisure connectivity in partnership with our antenna and component manufacturers.
The governments announcement on 14th July was that by 2027 Huawei hardware must no longer form part of the UK’s ‘core’ 5G network. However, up to 35% of its periphery network can still contain Huawei products, so there is no outright ban.
In terms of consumers, mobile phone handsets and 3G/4G/5G routers remain unaffected and are in no way impacted by this announcement.