Mobile broadband, what happens when you exceed your limit?

Mobile broadband, what happens when you exceed your limit?I’ve been thinking of getting a Mobile Broadband USB stick. Mobile broadband and data limits have been a hot topic for a long time so I thought I’d do some digging. I’ve only done some quick research but it’s definitely worth checking out each network carefully and, in particular, noting down how much you get charged if you go over that “Fair Usage Allowance”.

Three have a range of plans including a massive 15GB allowance for £15.99 per month. According to their price guide you’ll be charged 10.2p per MB for going above your inclusive data.

T-Mobile don’t appear to show “limits” but state that when you hit your 500MB or 1GB “allowance” you’ll “not be able to download”. You can browse pages as much as you want, but you won’t be able to download large files or watch video until next month, avoiding any shocks. We found information about this in their fair-use policy.

Orange again have a range of data deals and, according to their dongles page, charge 5.1p per MB when you go over.

Vodafone offer several deals including a Mobile Broadband 1GB, Mobile Broadband 3GB and Mobile Broadband 5GB. These are subject to the following limits..

a. Mobile Broadband 1GB – 1GB of data a month (UK only)
b. Mobile Broadband 3GB – 3GB of data a month (UK only)
c. Mobile Broadband 5GB – 5GB of data a month (UK only)

If you exceed these limits an out-of-bundle charge of £15 per GB will apply. Details here.

o2 offer 1GB and 3GB packages with a charge of 2.4p per MB over your limit. Details here.

We also noticed providers like TalkTalk offering 1GB packages with a charge of 10p per MB over the limit.

How does this affect you ? Well, let’s say that you take this tempting offer from TalkTalk and pay just £10 per month. What happens if you leave your laptop on and it decides to download a virus update, or a Windows update? What if you creep over that threshold even if you’re being careful? Well, watch out. At 10p per MB over the limit it works out like so..

10p x 1MB = 10p
10p x 10MB = £1
10p x 100MB = £10
10p x 1024MB = £102.40 extra !!!!

In effect, if you buy a dongle from TalkTalk and use 2GB you could end up paying your £10 per month plus £102.40 for “overage charges”. Ouch.

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  • Stgeorge

    Worth also looking at roaming charges, I have just got a £290 bill for using 33mb in Canada. My fault entirely, I used it without checking the rates – but the notification you are supposed to get when you use certain amounts only applies to Europe.. Read the small print!

  • Dave Samworth

    Here’s a theory :

    If you were to buy a Pay as you go dongle from Three ( at £20.99 – this gets you the 3G dongle and a Gig of data.
    Then, if you get a free SIM ( – it claims that for £15 you get 300 minutes, 3000 texts and all you can eat data. I’m guessing that this is if you top up £15 every month but even so, once you have this SIM, you could replace the SIM in the dongle with this new one and then get all you can eat data for £15 a month in the dongle.

    I don’t know if this would work but I reckon theoretically, you could get all you can eat data for £15.99.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • im not sure three will allow you to use your sim card in a modem our use it in a phone connected to a computer, at least thats what the three blog says in relation to all you can eat data (payg at least),

      nothing stopping you form trying it as you cant exactly run up a huge bill on payg..

      admittedly the speeds on three again are back to 50-100k.