Monday, October 7, 2013 at 2:06 pm.

Data Roaming Report: 3 UK

SIM Card Vending Machine at London Heathrow Airport LHR

Carrier: 3, which is the UK’s fourth-largest mobile operator.

Price: £20 (~$32) at an airport vending machine for a nano-SIM and 3′s current £15 all-in-one add-on, which includes a month of unlimited data, plus 300 voice minutes and 3000 texts.

This was super-convenient, but had I waited until getting into London and gone into a 3 store, I probably could have saved some money. SIM cards seem to be free, and the £10 all-in-one sounds sufficient for my short stay: 500 MB data, plus 100 voice minutes and 3000 texts. That would have saved me half.

Performance: 3′s 3G network was solid throughout London, with good coverage indoors and outdoors and download speeds around 1.4 megabits per second during my few speed tests. My iPhone battery life seemed pretty good; much better than on Orange in Paris.

Value: Convenience counts for a lot, and this was by far the easiest SIM card purchase I’ve ever made. Quick credit card transaction after airport customs, no language barrier, no filling out forms, no activation delay, and no waiting in line. Every airport should have these. I used about 500 MB of data during the five days I was in London, which would have cost me $125 from Verizon. So I saved about 75%. A great experience.

This information is current as of October 7, 2013. Evaluate your needs, consult carrier websites, and explore other options before purchasing.