MobileXpert

Who's the best UK mobile network provider?

2017

There are dozens of mobile networks in the UK. But all that choice can make it difficult to make a decision. We’ve cut through the technical jargon and hype to bring you the best mobile network for this month.

We take a fresh look at our top choice every month to keep you updated on which network is the best. Along with the number one mobile network, we also list the best of the rest so you can compare the competition.

The best UK mobile network in 2017 is Pebble

Pebble takes the crown for a number of reasons. First, you’ll get access to the best possible coverage across all the networks in the UK and secondly you benefit from first rate customer service not available elsewhere. Pebble Network SIM Only plans start from £9.99 for the cheapest package and go up to £34.99 for 1000 minutes or texts every month.

Which other mobile networks should I consider?

Of the remaining UK networks, we recommend you consider signing up to Virgin Mobile, iD Mobile or Three. Here's a quick look at their offerings, followed below by why we favour these three in particular.

 

Virgin Mobile

iD

Three

Data

600MB to 20GB

250MB to 10GB

500MB to unlimited

Minutes

300 to 5000

250 to 2000

200 to unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

5000

Unlimited

Contract

30 days

One to 12 months

One to 12 months

Price

From £6

From £4

From £7

 

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Virgin Mobile is currently offering 20GB of data for £15

If you are looking for a cheap SIM plan you may wish to consider Virgin Mobile at the moment. Bringing a bright start to the New Year, Virgin is offering 20GB of data for just £15 per month on a rolling monthly basis so you can cancel any time should you wish. Virgin uses EE's 4G network to carry its calls, texts and data so you shouldn't have any coverage issues.

iD offers free roaming to a range of international destinations

iD offers plenty of SIM-only plans, and is one of the cheapest mobile providers on the market. It has some of the best roaming rates available, thanks to its TakeAway SIM plans. You can currently roam in 29 international destinations at no extra cost including Australia, France and USA.

Three offers unlimited data SIM plans

Three offers a range of SIM-only plans and is one of the only networks to offer unlimited data – ideal for those who stream content in HD. Three also offers competitive roaming rates with its Feel at Home plans, allowing you to roam in up to 19 countries for free.

Which UK mobile network provider has the best coverage?

EE currently offers the best overall mobile coverage in the UK, serving 98% of the population with 3G and 98% with 4G. However, the 3G and 4G numbers differ greatly among the other three UK network providers (Three, O2 and Vodafone).

UK network provider with the best 4G coverage

EE has the best 4G coverage in the UK right now, covering 97% of the population. Vodafone covers 65%, O2 covers 66% and Three covers 53%.

Visit EE & choose a SIM plan

UK network provider with the best 3G coverage

EE, O2 and Three all tie for the best 3G coverage in the UK right now, covering 98% of the population. Vodafone covers 90%.

Visit O2 & choose a SIM plan

Always check the coverage maps before choosing a mobile phone network

Even though the coverage figures are impressive, they do not guarantee you can get a decent 3G or 4G mobile signal where you live. To find out the coverage situation of a specific provider where you live, you'll need to use one of their coverage maps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK mobile networks ranked by customer service (not including Pebble)

According to the latest research from Ofcom, the best UK network for customer service is O2 with 80% of its customer satisfied overall. This is followed in joint second and third place by Vodafone and Three, both with 69% of their customers satisfied. EE came in last place with only 66% of their customers reporting their experience as satisfactory.

1st place: Pebble

99% of customer service calls answered in under 10 minutes during 2017.

Live chat support available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2nd place: O2

The majority of contacts with O2 customer services (61%) were prompted by general enquiries, which may have included making changes to a package, buying a new service, or seeking further, technical-based information.

Some customers (22%) got in touch with a bill-related issue while 17% made contact to discuss a fault or repair.

Over half (51%) of those customers who had contacted O2 with an issue or enquiry were able to reach a solution without the need for subsequent contact, on par with the previous year.

Most customers (68%) had their issues resolved in less than an hour, which was in-line with the sector average (66%).

Around 17% had to wait several hours for a solution but still reached it that same day, while one in ten (10%) waited two days or more. Waits of five days or longer were the least common (5%).

The vast majority of O2 subscribers who had contacted customer support in 2015 (80%) were satisfied overall with the service they received – a slightly higher share than rival network operators.

Visit O2 & choose a SIM plan

Joint 3rd: Three

Half of the contacts made to Three’s customer service department (51%) related to general matters such as package changes and technical enquiries.

One in five (20%) got in touch to discuss a fault or repair, which according to sector-wide statistics may have related to poor coverage or reception, call disconnections or delayed text or voicemails. Around three in ten (28%) were in contact to discuss a bill-related issue.

Around two out of five of those who contacted Three with an issue (44%) felt it had been completely resolved without the need for further discussion. This suggests that the remainder had to get in touch with the provider on at least one other occasion.

Over two-thirds of customers (70%) had their issues resolved within an hour of contacting customer services. One in every five (18%) had to wait longer but still managed to reach a resolution before the day’s end.

Around one in ten customers (6%) waited up to four days for a solution while a small minority (6%) were left waiting at least five.

Most customers (69%) said that they were satisfied all in all with the quality of Three’s customer service, which was in-line with the industry average.

Visit Three & choose a SIM plan

Joint 3rd: Vodafone

The reasons for contacting Vodafone customer services were spread rather evenly across billing issues, fault and repair related matters, and general enquires. Under half the customers (45%) got in touch with the provider to discuss matters relating to package changes, new service purchases and technical enquires.

Sector data suggests issues with payments, and unexpected or inaccurate bills prompted a further 43% of customer service requests, while 12% were focused on problems with reception or other technical issues with the service.

Less than half of those contacting Vodafone (44%) had their issue completely resolved after one exchange with the provider’s customer service team, on par with the previous year and slightly above the sector average.

Two-thirds of customers (67%) had their issue resolved within an hour of contacting customer services, while one in five found a solution by the end of the same day (18%).

Around one in ten customers (5%) waited up to four days before having their problem solved, while 9% waited at least five.

The majority of Vodafone customers (69%) were satisfied overall with the customer service they received.

Visit Vodafone & choose a SIM plan

Last place: EE

The most common reason among customers (44%) for contacting EE support was to discuss general service matters such as changes to packages.

Around a third of calls (31%) were driven by bill-related issues, which may have included problems with payment or inaccurate billing. Over a quarter (26%) of the calls were motivated by faults with the service or matters associated with a repair.

Two out of five customers (44%) only had to contact EE once before having their issue resolved, suggesting that the remaining had to get in touch with an advisor on at least one other occasion.

Three out of five customers (61%) were able to find a solution to their problem in less that an hour of contacting EE, with a further 21% coming to a conclusion before the day was out.

Some customers (9%) had to wait two to four days before having their problem sorted – others (9%) waited five days or more.

Approximately two-thirds of EE customers (66%) who had contacted the provider’s support service said that they were satisfied overall with the help they received.

Visit EE & choose a SIM plan

Which UK mobile network has the most customer complaints?

EE and Vodafone generated the most complaints throughout 2015 – both at a volume above the sector average and considerably higher than rivals O2 and Three. For EE, the amount of complaints decreased in the second half of the year, whereas Vodafone’s went up.

Which mobile provider is best for network-to-network calls?

Giffgaff is currently the best UK provider offering free network-to-network calls (calls to other giffgaff users). It is one of four UK mobile providers to offer this without any catches.

Giffgaff beats the other three, however, because of its focus on community. Its members are known as ‘giffgaffers’ and many are active members of the provider’s online forum, which offers assistance to new users. All giffgaff pay monthly plans benefit from free giffgaff-to-giffgaff calls to further enhance this community.

GiffGaff

Data

100MB to unlimited

Minutes

125 to unlimited

Texts

500 to unlimited

Contract

30-day rolling

Price

From £5 per month

Visit giffgaff & choose a SIM plan

Other networks you should consider for free network-to-network calls

Only three other providers offer free inter-network calls: TalkTalk Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Three. Two of the three impose usage limitations, so come in behind our top dog, giffgaff.

 

Virgin Media

TalkTalk

Three

Data

300MB to 20GB

250MB to 2.1GB

500MB to unlimited

Minutes

300 to 5000

200 to 1000

200 to unlimited

Texts

Unlimited

250 - Unlimited

Unlimited

Contract

30-day rolling

30 days to 12 months

One to 12 months

Price

From £6 per month

From £5 per month

From £6 per month

 

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Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile features free network-to-network calls to other Virgin Mobile customers. You do not need to be a Virgin Media broadband customer in order to buy a Virgin Mobile deal.

TalkTalk Mobile

TalkTalk SIM-only deals are only available to existing TalkTalk broadband customers, but you can make free calls to other TalkTalk customers. The majority of the SIM plans are available on a 12-month contract, although there is one 30-day contract – 500MB of data with 200 minutes and unlimited texts for £5 per month.

Three Mobile

Three also offers free network-to-network calls on its pay monthly and SIM-only plans. However calls are limited to 2000 minutes and must be made within the UK.