Travel

Cell phone providers for England AND Ireland?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 18th, 2017 12:10 pm
[OP]
Newbie
May 18, 2008
59 posts
3 upvotes
Halifax

Cell phone providers for England AND Ireland?

I wonder if anyone has a recommendation for cell service in the UK and Ireland? Would prefer to buy sim cards and plans in England (our first stop) and then be able to use it in Ireland.

We have two unlocked phones, so we will mostly want to text and call each other (which is easy to find), make the occasional local call, and have some data to play with.

Data seems to be the sticky bit. We are travelling with our two teens, and would like to use a portable wifi hotspot to give them some data. (We have a couple of car trips of 3-4 hours planned.) Apparently "tethering" is considered an add-on in many cases. For instance, Three in the UK would do everything for us except allow us to tether. (And I can't recall if we could use the data package in Ireland.)

I know changes are coming to the EU with regard to roaming on June 15, but still haven't been able to sort out a plan that ticks all our boxes.
8 replies
Newbie
Jun 8, 2010
85 posts
10 upvotes
I used cellhire when traveling in Europe and didnt have any complaints.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 31, 2006
3037 posts
103 upvotes
Toronto
coastgirl wrote:
Jun 12th, 2017 12:07 pm
I wonder if anyone has a recommendation for cell service in the UK and Ireland? Would prefer to buy sim cards and plans in England (our first stop) and then be able to use it in Ireland.

We have two unlocked phones, so we will mostly want to text and call each other (which is easy to find), make the occasional local call, and have some data to play with.

Data seems to be the sticky bit. We are travelling with our two teens, and would like to use a portable wifi hotspot to give them some data. (We have a couple of car trips of 3-4 hours planned.) Apparently "tethering" is considered an add-on in many cases. For instance, Three in the UK would do everything for us except allow us to tether. (And I can't recall if we could use the data package in Ireland.)

I know changes are coming to the EU with regard to roaming on June 15, but still haven't been able to sort out a plan that ticks all our boxes.
buy a Three Uk sim. I tethered with it when i was using it without issues.
My Heatware no posting contact info in your sig
Newbie
Jul 21, 2009
8 posts
5 upvotes
vancouver
I went to London last month, went straight to a Three store to buy prepaid cell phone sim. It costed me 20 pond to buy a 12GB data plan with a few hundred talking minutes, but if 1GB is good enough for you , you only need to pay 10 pond. And the data is roaming free in most European countries. However, I found there were tons of prepaid cell phone options in grocery stores and shopping malls! And any of them were cheaper than Canadian cell phone plans.
Newbie
Jun 15, 2016
21 posts
sriver wrote:
Jul 17th, 2017 1:16 pm
I went to London last month, went straight to a Three store to buy prepaid cell phone sim. It costed me 20 pond to buy a 12GB data plan with a few hundred talking minutes, but if 1GB is good enough for you , you only need to pay 10 pond. And the data is roaming free in most European countries. However, I found there were tons of prepaid cell phone options in grocery stores and shopping malls! And any of them were cheaper than Canadian cell phone plans.
+1 on this. Just buy a pre-paid SIM at the airport. It was pretty much plug and play for me. I had no issues.
Deal Addict
Mar 17, 2004
4509 posts
124 upvotes
I also used Three. It allows you to roam all through EU
[OP]
Newbie
May 18, 2008
59 posts
3 upvotes
Halifax
Thanks.

We're back so I thought I'd update on our experience.

We didn't choose Three because they couldn't offer a deal with data tethering/mobile hot spot. We wanted the kids to be able to share data, and/or use our tablets. Three does have plans that allow tethering but NOT PAYG plans, only monthly plans. We were told you can't get a monthly plan without a UK address/credit or debit card. Mark, did you use an EU address when you signed up with Three? Or maybe the deals have changed--they seem to do that quite frequently.

So we went with Tesco. When we arrived we went straight to a Tesco 10 mins' drive from Gatwick. We bought 3 sims for #15 each and then converted the credit to 3, #15 "rocket packs", which gave us 3 GB of data each, plus virtually unlimited calling and texting to EU numbers. Getting them up and running was easy, and within about an hour we had three of our unlocked smart phones working. (We weren't going to get one for the kids, but it was so cheap we said why not.)

It worked fine in the UK, and it should've worked in Ireland. However, coverage in Ireland--well, it sucked. Tesco UK does not use Tesco Ireland's network--they are completely separate. We had to use either Vodaphone or Meteor while in Ireland, and coverage wasn't good, even around Dublin. We also spent a couple of hours of precious vacation time trying to make it work (both by going to a Tesco in Ireland and finding out they couldn't help us, and then spending waaay too much time on online chat and customer support, to basically find out--coverage sucked). We also got stuck without a way to navigate to our initial destination--we didn't realize til we'd left the airport's wifi zone that we couldn't get any data to set up the gps. (I've often managed to navigate by gps, without data as long as I can set up the destination first, via wifi.)

Soooo...the good news was it was cheap, easy, and quite dependable in the "home country". And *theoretical* coverage for Ireland was included. However, I'd suggest you do your homework to make sure network coverage of partner providers is also good in any country where you plan to roam. And make sure the plan you like is something a non-EU resident can buy.

Overall, our experience in the UK was great, and as others have said, so much better value than anything we could get from Bell.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 31, 2006
3037 posts
103 upvotes
Toronto
coastgirl wrote:
Jul 17th, 2017 11:05 pm
Thanks.

We're back so I thought I'd update on our experience.

We didn't choose Three because they couldn't offer a deal with data tethering/mobile hot spot. We wanted the kids to be able to share data, and/or use our tablets. Three does have plans that allow tethering but NOT PAYG plans, only monthly plans. We were told you can't get a monthly plan without a UK address/credit or debit card. Mark, did you use an EU address when you signed up with Three? Or maybe the deals have changed--they seem to do that quite frequently.

So we went with Tesco. When we arrived we went straight to a Tesco 10 mins' drive from Gatwick. We bought 3 sims for #15 each and then converted the credit to 3, #15 "rocket packs", which gave us 3 GB of data each, plus virtually unlimited calling and texting to EU numbers. Getting them up and running was easy, and within about an hour we had three of our unlocked smart phones working. (We weren't going to get one for the kids, but it was so cheap we said why not.)

It worked fine in the UK, and it should've worked in Ireland. However, coverage in Ireland--well, it sucked. Tesco UK does not use Tesco Ireland's network--they are completely separate. We had to use either Vodaphone or Meteor while in Ireland, and coverage wasn't good, even around Dublin. We also spent a couple of hours of precious vacation time trying to make it work (both by going to a Tesco in Ireland and finding out they couldn't help us, and then spending waaay too much time on online chat and customer support, to basically find out--coverage sucked). We also got stuck without a way to navigate to our initial destination--we didn't realize til we'd left the airport's wifi zone that we couldn't get any data to set up the gps. (I've often managed to navigate by gps, without data as long as I can set up the destination first, via wifi.)

Soooo...the good news was it was cheap, easy, and quite dependable in the "home country". And *theoretical* coverage for Ireland was included. However, I'd suggest you do your homework to make sure network coverage of partner providers is also good in any country where you plan to roam. And make sure the plan you like is something a non-EU resident can buy.

Overall, our experience in the UK was great, and as others have said, so much better value than anything we could get from Bell.
I used Three PAYG plan with the 12GB tethered without problems.. hooked up two ipads, my gf's phone and my phone with no issues. the site will say you can't tether but actually you can. I did that two yrs ago and just last month as well.
My Heatware no posting contact info in your sig
Member
Oct 24, 2004
498 posts
62 upvotes
My friend just got back from London and brought me a Three sim back, My wife is going in two weeks. Can I do this on-line before I go and test it in Canada?

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