Sim only deals are increasingly being seen as the smart alternative to the (high) fixed costs and lengthy commitment of a traditional network contract. Indeed, sim only deals have got so popular in recent years that specialist operators like giffgaf have emerged, focusing solely on supplying sim cards and mobile network connection packages. But just how does it all work?
When sim only deals first emerged, they were primarily aimed at offering a low-cost way of using a mobile phone. In many ways, nothing has changed about this basic goal, even as the amount of money that we are prepared to pay, to gain access to mobile phones and network usage, has increased over the years, roughly in line with continuing technological developments in the market.
The pay-as-you-go type deals which first gained widespread popularity were typically used to access a network connection for cheaper mobile phones. More expensive, top of the range models were offered as subsidized incentives to sign up to network contracts. For those that could not afford to commit to another regular monthly outgoing, pay as you go was a way of running a basic mobile on top-up by top-up basis. Pay as you go also offered a way for people with a poor bad credit history – who might be refused a standard mobile contract – to gain access to a basic mobile phone service, by simply buying a handset and topping up with vouchers.
The goalposts shifted somewhat with the introduction of the smartphone. While the term had been coined some years before, it was the release of the iPhone in 2007 that heralded the arrival of smartphones. We know them today as the devices that can efficiently browse the internet, as well as download apps – and these days, carry out complex tasks like streaming video content in real time (for more on the history of the smartphone the Wikipedia page is worth a read). All of these functions require access to mobile internet services, with jobs like live streaming requiring a particularly fast internet connection.
As you might expect, none of this comes cheap. Rapidly downloading content means it is easy to access a lot of data in a short space of time. And, exceeding the monthly data usage limits on many standard network contracts can end up costing a small fortune.
Enter the next generation of sim only deals. Sim only specialists like giffgaff can offer a range of bundles for both smartphones and tablets. Phone bundles include the call minutes and texts that will be familiar to those who used the first sim only deals, but also a data usage element, while data only packages are dedicated solely for providing mobile internet access. The defining characteristic of both the mixed use and data only packages offered by the best sim only deals is the low cost, compared to standard network contract rates – the main reason of this possibility is that, sim only specialists don’t need to worry about the cost of subsidising handsets.
This has lead to an expansion in the audience for sim only deals. Joining those who are only prepared to spend the minimum possible on running a mobile phone are the dedicated and enthusiastic smartphone and tablet users, as they know they will be using a lot of data and don’t want to limit this usage. Many have made the calculation that stumping up for the full cost of a new or reconditioned device, without subsidy, is still cheaper in the long run if sim only deals – rather than the higher charges of a standard network contract which are used to access mobile services.