Mobile coverage: No more 'no signal'

ByDuncan Heaney
Mobile coverage

The big mobile networks cover 99% of the UK, but how can you be sure you’ll get good reception where you are? broadbandchoices explains how to check mobile coverage and what you should watch out for before you switch...

Checking coverage

Before choosing a mobile phone network, you should check coverage in the areas you're most likely use your phone - for example your home, work and any other places you frequent. A mobile's only as good as the signal it gets and if coverage is poor, call quality and internet can be awful - or even non-existent.

Signal strength is determined by your distance from a network's nearest mast. As a rule, heavily populated zones like city centres are better for coverage than the countryside. Even so, you can have dead zones - where coverage is unavailable - in both.

In short, checking coverage before switching is crucial, as each network may have better or worse coverage than others where you live and work. Every network has an online coverage checker - they're not 100% accurate as signal strength can be affected by many things, like tall buildings or thick walls, but they will give you a good idea of the coverage you can expect in different areas. See below for links to each one.

And if you found your way here looking for our mobile phone comparison, here's where you need to go:

Click here to compare mobile phone deals

Three mobile phone coverage

Three mobile network

 The Three network gives mobile coverage to 97% of the population. Click the button below to go to Three's coverage checker and enter your postcode. You'll then be able to see how strong expected coverage is in that area for 3G, advanced 3G and 4G using the tabs at the side.

Check Three mobile coverage

Try out Three for yourself. See what the network is like in your area by getting a short term SIM only deal. You can get 30 day plans on Three for less than £20 a month. A good 'starter' plan would be this option, which gives you enough data and minutes to test the network's coverage capabilities on your travels. 

Three SIM only deals

4GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

 

£17.00

£9.00 a month 

12 month contract

Get deal
Three SIM only deal

8GB 4G data

600 minutes

Unlimited texts

 

£14.00a month 

12 month contract

Get deal

See all Three deals

BT Mobile phone coverage

BT logo

BT owns EE, so naturally it makes use of the same network. That means it has the widest 4G coverage of any operator, with 75% of the population able to get superfast mobile internet. Its 3G coverage is even wider, encompassing 98% of the population. To see what coverage is like in your area, use the link below.

Check BT Mobile coverage

Fancy trying out BT Mobile for yourself? BT has a range of different SIM deals for both existing BT Broadband and brand new customers. Its deals all come with a 12 month minimum term but you can increase the allowance during the initial contract period if you find you need to. 

Browse BT Mobile deals

BT

15GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts 

Limited time offer!

£16.00 a month

£21.00 for non-BT customers 

12 month contract

£60 Amazon or iTunes voucher

Get deal

O2 mobile phone coverage

O2 (www.O2.co.uk) covers 99% of the population, with 3G reaching more than 85%. Its 4G coverage is more limited - it's mainly centred in and around cities - but it's expanding rapidly.

Click the button below and you'll be taken to a map of the UK. Search for your town or postcode and you can see what types of coverage are available where you live, and the quality of signal you're likely to receive.

Check O2 mobile coverage

O2 has some amazing deals on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge right now - take a look! 

SIM-only deal

5GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£16.00 a month

12 month plan

Get deal
Samsung Galaxy S7

1GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£9.99 upfront

£35.00 a month

24 months

Get deal
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

30GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£9.99 upfront

£56.00 a month

 24 months

 

Get deal
Samsung Galaxy S8

3GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£49.99 upfront

£51.00 a month

Free JBL speakers 

24 month contract 

Get deal

See all O2 deals

Sky mobile phone coverage

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile uses O2's network, so coverage isn't bad. 99% of the population can get signal, more than 85% can connect to 3G, and over 70% can connect to 4G.

OpenSignal reckons you'll be able to get 4G about 56% of the time - if you're in a large town or city, you'll be fine.

To see what it's like in your area, use O2's coverage checker. 

Check Sky and O2 coverage  

5GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts  

£20.00 a month

12 months

Get deal
 

3GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimted texts 

£15.00 a month

£25.00 a month for new customers

12 months

Get deal
 

1GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts 

£10.00 a month

12 months

Get deal

 

Vodafone mobile phone coverage

Vodafone

Vodafone (www.vodafone.co.uk) covers more than 90% of the population. 4G coverage is less extensive, but growing rapidly - use the coverage checker to see whether you can get it or not. How do you do that? Click the button, enter your postcode or the name of the place you live and you'll see the expected coverage in that area for 2G, 3G and 4G.

Check Vodafone coverage

Test drive Vodafone by ordering a short term SIM only deal today. Vodafone's network comes with many benefits, including Spotify and Sky Sports Mobile subscriptions services on certain plans.

Vodafone

20GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

 

£19.20 a month

4GB of roaming data

Free Spotify for 12 months 

12 month plan

 

Get deal
iPhone 6s

6GB 24GB data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£10.00 iPhone 6s 32GB

£47.00 a month

2GB of roaming data

Get plan

*This offer is only valid for new Vodafone customers.

EE mobile phone coverage

EE

 

EE (www.ee.co.uk) 2G and 3G covers 98% of the population. It also has the widest 4G coverage of all providers.

To check coverage, click the button below to go to EE's checker, then enter a postcode or place to see the 3G and 4G availability in that area, and the expected signal quality. EE also runs Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, so you'll also see coverage for those network.

Check EE mobile coverage

Want to see how EE fares in your area? You can test EE's network performance to ensure that it's fast enough and reliable enough in your home and at work by grabbing one of its SIM only plans. EE offers a range of 30 day 4G contracts, so you could try it out before you make a longer-term commitment.

EE SIM

12GB 4G data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£19.99 a month

12 month contract

FREE six months of Apple Music

3 months acess to BT sports app

 

Get plan

iD Mobile coverage

iD Mobile

The Carhone Warehouse-owned iD Mobile uses Three's network, which means it covers 97% of the population for 3G internet. All iD Mobile plans include 4G as standard. If you're with iD Mobile you'll have the option to get an unlimited 4G data plan (only available on Three and iD Mobile).   Follow the link below   to check coverage.

Check ID coverage

If you fancy trying out iD Mobile for yourself, why not grab a 30-day SIM only plan? Compare all iD Mobile SIM plans here, or go with the cheapest one below: 

id mobile

1.5GB 4G data

250 minutes

5000 texts

Flash sale!

£5.00 a month

1 month contract

Get plan

TalkTalk Mobile coverage

 

 

Only available to customers who take TalkTalk broadband, this operator specialises in great value pay monthly and SIM-only plans. It uses O2's network so coverage is similarly strong, covering 99% of the population. 

Check TalkTalk mobile coverage here

 

Virgin Mobile coverage

Virgin Media

 

Virgin Mobile shares EE's network, so you get the same coverage with Virgin Mobile as you would with EE - around 98% 3G and 80% 4G coverage. Click the link below to check Virgin Mobile coverage in the UK. Enter the postcode or location where you want to check and you can see 4G and 3G coverage and signal strength.

Check Virgin Mobile coverage

Why not try a Virgin Media's 30 day plan to see if its the right network for you?

Virgin sim

 1GB 2GB 4G data

1500 minutes

Unlimited texts

£9.00 a month

30 day contract

Get plan

Plusnet Mobile coverage

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet Mobile uses EE to deliver its services, meaning coverage is very good. Over 99% of the UK population is covered, including 3G mobile internet. A huge 97% can access 4G - equating to about two-thirds of the country geographically.

Like the sound of Plusnet Mobile? Pick up a SIM-only plan today - there's lots of data, and they're all on a 30-day basis so there's no commitment.

Plusnet Mobile SIM

1GB data

1000 minutes

Unlimited texts

£7.50 a month

Get deal
Plusnet Mobile SIM

500MB 1GB data 

500 minutes

1000 texts

£5.00 a month

Get deal

FreedomPop mobile coverage

FreedomPop

FreedomPop uses Three's network, which means very good coverage of around 97%... but FreedomPop only works through the network's app. Everything - including calls and texts - operates through mobile data, so if you don't have a sufficiently fast connection you might struggle a bit.

Still, 3G will be more than good enough most of the time, especially as it reaches 97% of the population on Three. And 4G is included, which has pretty decent coverage too. Plus you can always call and text when you're connected to Wi-Fi, even if you don't have signal.

Check FreedomPop coverage

FreedomPop SIM only deal

200MB of data

200 minutes

200 texts

FREE

30 day plan

Get deal
FreedomPop SIM only deal

8GB data

(6GB then 3GB thereafter) 

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited text

 

Broadbandchoices Exclusive!

£7.99 

30 day plan

Get deal

16GB of data

Unlimited minutes

Unlimited texts

£9.99  a month

16GB data for 3 months, 4GB thereafter! 

30 day plan

View deal

 

The People's Operator coverage

The People's Operator

The People's Operator - or TPO, as it's easier to type - is virtual network. That means it uses another network to deliver its services - in this case, Three. As such it has much the same coverage as Three, with excellent 3G and 4G coverage.

Check The People's Operator coverage

TPO Mobile SIM only deal

2GB of 4G data

600 minutes

Unlimited texts

SIM Only

£6.99 a month

1 month contract

Get deal
TPO Mobile SIM only deal

512MB of 4G data

200 minutes

500 texts

SIM Only

£4.99

£3.99 a month

1 month contract

Get deal

 

Asda Mobile coverage

Asda mobile logo

Asda Mobile uses EE's network. Although EE is best known for its wide-reaching 4G, this unfortunately doesn't extend to Asda Mobile - though it does offer 3G that covers 99% of the population. 

Check Asda Mobile coverage

ASDA Mobile

1.5GB of 4G data

600 minutes

Unlimited texts

£10.00 a month

30 day plan

See deal
ASDA Mobile

500MB of 4G Data

300 minutes

Unlimited texts

£7.00 a month

30 day plan

See deal

Orange mobile phone coverage

Orange (www.ee.co.uk) is part of EE in the UK, and plans are no longer available. Still, some are still on Orange contracts, so click the button to go to EE's coverage checker

Check Orange mobile coverage

T-Mobile mobile phone coverage

Like Orange, T-Mobile (www.ee.co.uk) was part of EE in the UK, but is no longer an active brand. Click the button below to go to the EE coverage checker.

Check T-Mobile coverage

Different types of mobile coverage

Mobile networks list up to three types of service on their coverage checkers. Here's a quick explanation of what they are:

  • 2G - Lets you make calls, send texts and potentially access email.
  • 3G - Lets you surf the web, watch videos, download apps and more. Most phone plans in the UK are 3G, and overall coverage is pretty good, though some areas - particularly rural areas - are still 3G 'not-spots'.
  • 4G - The fastest mobile internet available. Let's you surf the web, stream videos in HD, download apps and music at similar speeds to a home broadband. Coverage is less widespread than 3G, though it's expanding. If you have a 4G plan and you're in an area that isn't covered by it, you'll switch to 3G.

Compare mobile phone deals

If you're looking for a new handset or mobile plan, remember to check coverage. But also compare deals to make sure you're paying the best possible price. You can do that with our mobile phone comparison service:

Click here to compare mobile phone deals 

Was this guide useful? If so, take a minute to rate us on Trustpilot.

 

Mobile phones

Find the perfect deal for you!