SIM Only deals represent the most cost-effective way to run your smartphone or tablet. That’s a fact. But investigating free WiFi could save you a packet when it comes to data.
The average mobile phone contract now costs £47.40 a month, compared to just £12 a month for SIM Only deals.
They’re ideal for customers wanting to keep their existing handset at the end of a contract, or for people who prefer to buy a device up front rather than taking out a long and intractable contract.
But SIM Only deals often provide less data than pay-monthly packages and going over your allowance makes for large unwanted bills.
Fortunately, you can save data (and money) by setting your phone up for free WiFi.
Free WiFi hotspots are available all over the country, depending who your mobile contract and home broadband accounts are with.
Below, we consider the various ways to get free WiFi on a SIM only device.
Free WiFi from your broadband provider
The UK’s big three broadband providers all offer unlimited free WiFi when their customers are out and about.
These hotspots vary between bandwidth allocated by domestic broadband routers to dedicated hotspots designed for public use.
Sky has invested heavily in creating hotspots in public buildings and cafés, through a fully-owned subsidiary company called The Cloud. This network is currently being rebranded as Sky WiFi.
BT has already installed over five million hotspots across the UK, from the Western Isles to the Isle of Wight.
It provides WiFi coverage pretty much everywhere, apart from mid-Wales and the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Virgin also has two million hotspots across the country, and it’s invested heavily in creating a WiFi network across 340 London Underground and Overground stations.
When Virgin has finished this ongoing programme, only four Underground stations will lack WiFi on their concourses or platforms.
BT, Virgin and Sky all offer free Android and iOS apps that automatically connect to WiFi hotspots as soon as mobile devices detect them.
It’s possible to search for the nearest hotspot on any network, while Virgin’s app measures data usage to demonstrate how much data has been saved while connected to its hotspots.
Free WiFi from everyone else
Walk down any high street, and your mobile device will constantly be finding available wireless networks.
These are provided by shops, cafés, hotels and travel hubs like bus or train stations.
Connection methods vary from a simple tap of the ‘connect to network’ option through to registration with a username and password.
Your device is capable of remembering dozens of networks for future reference, which means you won’t have to manually log in every time you visit your favourite coffee shop.
Public WiFi networks have erratic speeds depending on your distance from the wireless router, the number of people online and the volume of data they’re accessing.
Because a public network is unsecured, any information you send or receive could be intercepted and viewed by other people. This is not the place to do your online banking!
Free WiFi from EE
In addition to the above, some EE customers are able to benefit from BT’s WiFi service on SIM Only packages.
Vodafone also has a tie-up with BT for hotspot access, but this is only currently available to pay monthly customers.