Mobile network coverage in the UK still isn't quite as comprehensive as it could be, so it’s important to check your area’s coverage before you choose a mobile network. On this page, we reveal coverage from the main suppliers and highlight the key factors that can affect your mobile signal.
Check your coverage
Mobile coverage varies across different supplier networks, so before you choose a provider you should check the coverage in the areas you spend the most time in - places like your home, work, town centre and so on. If mobile coverage is weak where you live and work, then call quality and internet coverage can be a day-to-day problem.
Every network has its own online coverage checker (see below). They’re not 100% accurate - lots of factors from thickness of walls to the height of buildings can affect mobile signal - but you’ll still get a good idea of coverage across different parts of the country.
EE mobile coverage
EE is, at the time of writing, the biggest and fastest 4G UK network. With the best population coverage and download speeds, this BT-owned operator currently reaches over 99% of the UK population, and more than 86% of the UK geography. You can find out about EE SIM-only plans and contract phone deals with our guides, check out our review to see what we think of it, or use the button below to check EE coverage in your area.
O2 mobile coverage
While it has less coverage than EE, O2 still brings its 4G contract and SIM-only plans to more than 97% of the UK population outdoors - and its coverage of towns and cities is expanding rapidly. Click on the link to find out more about O2 coverage in your area.
Vodafone mobile coverage
One of the big four networks, Vodafone has a huge 98% 4G UK population coverage. You can compare phone plans and SIM-only deals on this site, or find out what its network coverage is like in your area with Vodafone's coverage checker.
Three mobile coverage
Three provides mobile coverage to 98% of the UK population. Despite being the last major network to launch a 4G service, this faster coverage already exceeds 91% of population. If you're thinking of getting a SIM or phone plan from the operator, click the link below and enter your postcode to see how strong the network’s 3G and 4G coverage is in your area.
Smarty mobile coverage
As Smarty's SIM plans use Three’s network, 3G coverage reaches about 98% of the UK population, while 4G reaches over 91% of the UK population.
VOXI mobile coverage
Youth-focused network VOXI mobile uses the Vodafone network to deliver its SIM-only plans. which means it has about 98% UK population coverage with 4G. Vodafone’s network has a good reputation for reliability, which means if Vodafone has a signal, then VOXI will too.
BT Mobile coverage
BT owns and uses EE’s 4G network and has over 99% UK population coverage - the widest UK coverage currently available. Also, the network has over 86% of the UK geographically covered.
Sky Mobile coverage
Sky Mobile uses the O2 network and has widespread coverage. Outdoor 4G coverage sits at more than 97% of the population, so if you go for one of its plans, you’ll still be able to get 4G in most locations.
The People’s Operator mobile coverage
The People’s Operator is plugged into Three’s network and takes advantage of reliable 4G coverage to over 91% of the UK population - and 98% 3G coverage. Use The People’s Operator mobile checker to find out more about coverage in your area.
Tesco Mobile coverage
Tesco Mobile uses O2’s infrastructure and towers and benefits from 4G coverage for over 97% of the UK population outdoors. What's more, 99% of the population can get signal to call or text, so if you choose a phone or SIM plan from the operator, chances are you'll be able to use it in your area.
iD Mobile coverage
Owned by Carphone Warehouse, iD Mobile uses Three’s network. Its 3G coverage is equal to about 98% of the UK population, and 4G covers about 91% of the UK population. All plans come with 4G at no extra cost.
Virgin Mobile coverage
As a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) of the EE 4G network, Virgin Mobile offers coverage of over 99% of the UK population and over 86% of the UK’s geography. Check out Virgin Mobile contract and SIM-only plans here, or click on the link to find out more about Virgin Mobile coverage in your area.
Plusnet Mobile coverage
Plusnet is owned by BT and powered by the dependable EE 4G network, which means over 99% population coverage and over 86% of UK geography covered. At 98% and 99% respectively, its population coverage for both 3G and 2G is also excellent.
Lebara Mobile uses the Vodafone network, though there is no 4G internet on Lebara - only 3G. That said, coverage is very good - more than 99% of the UK population can receive a signal.
FreedomPop Mobile coverage
Running on Three’s network, FreedomPop benefits from over 91% of the UK population with 4G and 98% coverage with 3G. Click on the link to find out more about FreedomPop’s coverage.
ASDA Mobile coverage
ASDA Mobile uses the EE network - the largest and most widespread 4G network in the UK, reaching over 99% of the population. Click on the link to find out more about ASDA Mobile’s coverage in your area.
giffgaff Mobile coverage
giffgaff uses O2’s infrastructure and is able to provide good coverage to 99% of the population for calls and texts. It also has 4G coverage for about 97% of the UK population indoors.
What will affect my coverage?
There are several factors that can affect mobile coverage, including:
- Distance from the mast - The further away you travel from a mast, the weaker a signal will be. Naturally, get too far from the mast and you'll likely switch to a closer one, but those areas in between can slow things down.
- The environment - One of the biggest reasons for inconsistent mobile signal is the environment itself. Tall buildings, trees, hills, thick walls, underground rooms are all examples of things that can reduce or block a mobile signal. Bear that in mind when comparing coverage - if you're not sure how a network will perform in your area, you can always try a pay as you go plan as a test.
- The device you’re using - low battery, out of date software or a small antenna are all examples of things that can stop you getting the best symbol. Make sure you keep your phone charged and up to date if you want the best experience.
- Congestion - The more people sharing the same tower, the slower your connection will be. It's a problem that's most common in highly populated cities, but it may also be noticeable at events that draw crowds, like sports matches or festivals.
Types of mobile coverage
Mobile networks break down their coverage into three types of service:
- 2G - The oldest mobile technology which enables you to make calls, send texts and potentially access email
- 3G - Most phone plans in the UK are 3G and let you surf the web, watch videos and download apps
- 4G - This is the fastest mobile technology available, which lets you surf the web, stream videos in HD and download music and apps at similar speeds to home broadband
Whichever network you favour, once you've checked which services are available in your area you can compare deals right here on this site.