giffgaff SIM only customers on 3G are being upgraded to a faster 4G service for no extra cost, as the budget carrier bids to sweeten its appeal in the face of an ever more competitive market for so-called ‘virtual networks’.
Under the terms of giffgaff’s improved SIM only offer, all customers with a 4G-compatible phone and who live in an area where giffgaff 4G is available will get the faster service from September 2nd.
On paper, that means customers signed up to giffgaff SIM only deals, which it terms 'goodybags', can expect connection speeds up to five times faster than 3G.
However, if they're in a locality where 4G has yet to reach they'll have to wait until the O2 network on which giffgaff’s service is based makes its way to the area.
To give you some idea when that might be, as of June O2’s 4G network was available to 70% of the population of the UK. The carrier is mandated to reach 98% population coverage by 2017.
giffgaff has also announced it will permit customers on all its SIM only plans to use tethering and is doubling the minutes on its ‘goodybags’ priced £12 per month and £15 per month. And there’ll be double data on those plans too, which will mean monthly allowances rise to 2GB and 4GB respectively.
The £18 per month goodybag has seen a change or two as well. This now gets you 6GB of data per month (up from 5GB previously) and double the minutes at 2000 per month.
And rounding off the revamp of giffgaff's plans is a key change to the £20 per month goodybag. In its former incarnation as a 3G-only plan, this offered unlimited data. But tweaked with the inclusion of a 4G service from next month, it’s set to become a bit more complex.
From September 2nd, it'll offer 6GB of 4G data per month. But in the event that customers burn through that allowance, they’re then switched to 3G speeds and are allowed completely unlimited usage with the slower service.
In a sop to mobile broadband customers, giffgaff has also announced that subscribers who are signed up to its gigabags are getting a free upgrade from 3G to 4G. Once again, there’s no extra charge for the faster service.