With mobile use increasingly centred around data services, mobile plans that offer generous data allowances at reasonable prices are becoming more and more favoured by Irish customers. SMS is being rapidly overtaken by data messaging services such as WhatsApp and Viber, while data calls have reached a quality to rival standard network phone calls.
More and more entertainment is also being consumed via mobile through mediums such as Spotify and Netflix, therefore the data tariffs and allowances that operators offer are more important than ever.
In light of this, we looked at the current data offerings from Irish providers to find out where the best value for mobile data could be found. Click here for a comprehensive rundown of the best value data plans.
How much data do you need?
The amount of data you need is based on how you use your phone or tablet. Light WhatsApp users may only need small allowances, while those who stream large amounts of music and video will need far larger allowances. Meteor have a great data calculator on their site to help you figure out what you need.
(i) We only looked at plans that included at least 1GB of data
(ii) We looked at plans that offer the best value per GB of data; the value offered in terms of phone calls and texts is ignored. ‘Value’ is defined as the cheapest cost per GB.
(iii) We split the plans between those that offer calls and/or texts as well as data from those that are data-only and perhaps more suited to tablet users.
Best value data plans with calls and/or texts:
The chart below shows the top 3 plans by cost per GB of data. All Plans include calls and/or text allowances on top of the data allowance.
*'All You Can Eat' capped at 15GB
The Winner – iD Mobile
What we found was that the price per GB can vary drastically from plan to plan. With the cheapest data offered by iD Mobile at €1 per GB. This is on a plan that includes 20GB of data for €20 per month, more than enough for all the data hounds out there.
iD Mobile allow tethering, which is where a smartphone’s data is used to connect a computer, tablet or other such device to the internet, so you can connect other devices to the internet even when there is no Wi-Fi available. This plan also includes 100 texts and 100 minutes, which might be a bit tight, with the average Irish consumer using approximately 200 texts and 200 minutes per month.
N.B. this cost per GB applies for both Prepay and Billpay iD plans
Second Place – Three €20 All You Can Eat
Three came second in our analysis. Three offer a €20 'All You Can Eat' data plan (limited to a fair usage of 15GB) at a cost of €1.33 per GB. This plan is great value, however keep in mind that Three do not currently allow tethering, so those looking to use their mobile phone as an internet hotspot might be best off looking at other plans.
Third Place – Tesco Mobile €15 Prepay
In third place is Tesco Mobile. Tesco offer a competitive €15 plan that includes 5GB of data for €1.67 per GB, only marginally more expensive than iD, Meteor & Three. This 5GB comes in the form of a €10 add-on that allows you to keep €5 of your credit, while granting you unlimited free calls to all Irish mobiles and landlines.
Best value plans with data only:
As can be seen from the above chart, Three occupies the top position for the best value mobile data-only plans with their 'Pro' plan offering 60GB of data for €34.99 at a cost per GB of €0.58. This plan is closely followed in second and third place by two of Meteor's Broadband SIM Only plans. The Three plan offers great value, but is more suited to those who require large amounts of data, 60GB is a massive allowance for most users!
The closest competing plans are offered by Tesco Mobile and Vodafone, but these plans are more expensive than the Meteor plans by over €0.60 and €1.60 respectively. Making Three or Meteor the go-to operator for data-only SIM's, depending on your data requirements.
Whether you need calls or texts as well as data allowances should influence your decision making.
There are some great value plans on the market, with prices per GB in the €1-€3 range. Be wary though, at the most expensive end of the market, Three's FlexiFix 60 has a whopping cost of €260.27 per GB of data, however it wont ever cost you that much, since it only has an allowance of 60MB per month and a monthly cost of €15.25.
At the end of the day, no matter what your usage habits, it pays to shop around. KillBiller, on iOS or Android can tell you your exact data usage and recommend the best plan tailored to your requirements.