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Best UK mobile network for data?

What's the best UK mobile network for data, in terms of coverage, speed, usage caps.....

Most Useful Answer CTPAHHIK  Feb. 23, 2012 at 08:53

Three mobile, if you have a signal - they have least coverage of any other network.
T-Mobile for coverage, but slow quite often.
Vodafone for a balance between coverage and speed.

What is that Three signal booster thing?

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matt101101 / MOD  Feb. 20, 2012 at 18:16

T-Mobile AFAIK, especially since they joined with Orange.

mrew42  Feb. 20, 2012 at 21:00

T-Mobile AFAIK, especially since they joined with Orange.

I wish that meant the best was actually consistantly good. Sometimes its utter sh*te :(

UltraA  Feb. 20, 2012 at 21:09

If we're talking data, I'd have to say Three. Been to quite a few different places with work recently and the Three (data only) SIM has given me miles better coverage and speeds compared to O2 (calls and data). Three's packages also seem quite competitive.

matt101101 / MOD  Feb. 20, 2012 at 21:11

Well my thinking was:
1) O2 are infamous for having the worse 3G coverage of the UK

2) 3 are useless as a network as there's no 2G and the customer service is terrible. Also the coverage still isn't great.

3) Vodafone's coverage isn't as good as T-Mob's.

4) Out of Orange and T-Mob, it was Orange that always had the better 2G signal, whilst T-Mob had the better 3G signal. So for data T-Mob seems the better choice.

5) T-Mobile do the only truly unlimited mobile internet plan in the UK which comes with access to a good old 2G signal for trips to more rural areas, they've also recently removed any data speed caps from the entire network.


Admittedly, even T-Mobile isn't perfect, as you pointed out but it's the best of a bad bunch when it comes to mobile data in the UK. The 3G networks in the UK are simply patchy, at best. There's nothing that anyone's likely to do about it. We'll just have to hope 4G brings inherently better coverage.

AhmadCentral  Feb. 20, 2012 at 21:19

Three is the best in my opinion if you are looking for fast speeds, reliability, constant use and tethering.

Three do All you can eat data with tethering from £25pm. There network currently supports HSPA+ 21Mbps and they will upgrade their network again this year to support speeds of up to 42Mbps making them the fastest network in the uk. They are already the only network in the UK to offer unlimited data with tethering and not cap download/upload speeds or throttle customers (cough 'T-Mobile' Cough).

On Three i constantly get more than 4mbps no matter where i am. I even get up to 12mbps at non peak times. Because i have AYCE i can tether as much as i want and not be charged extra. If you want to go with Three just make sure you have good coverage in your area/house. If not it doesn't really matter because Three have released a Home Signal booster which you can get through CS.

OGx  Feb. 22, 2012 at 21:59

Definitely three, because of the fact that their 3g coverage is excellent and is pretty much all very fast hspa+ at 21.6mbps,(being upgraded to 42mbps later this year), also you can use oranges 2g network as a fall back if you go out of their coverage which isnt oftern

CTPAHHIK  Feb. 23, 2012 at 08:53

Three mobile, if you have a signal - they have least coverage of any other network.
T-Mobile for coverage, but slow quite often.
Vodafone for a balance between coverage and speed.

What is that Three signal booster thing?

AhmadCentral  Feb. 23, 2012 at 09:31

Not true, three have more 3g coverage than orange, vodafone and o2. Same as T-Mobile as they are part of mbnl. When orange consolidate their masts into mbnl, as part of the merger, three will be able to use their equipment on the orange masts increasing their coverage

The home signal thing is basically vodafonrs sure signal thing. It uses wifi to improve signal in your house. At the moment its only avaliable for current/new customers on 24 month contracts/any contract that came with a 3 phone. But it will be available to all customers soon. E.g sim only/pay as you go customers

CTPAHHIK  Feb. 23, 2012 at 09:46

I have Gaff Gaff, Three and Vodafone. While traveling I notice that O2 has best 2G coverage and terrible 3G. Three has almost no coverage in rural area and inside buildings, but still better than O2 3G. Vodafone is better that Three, but not as good as O2 2G. With Vodafone you have 3G signal together with 2G 95% of the time. You might need to force your phone to 3G as I notice that phone shows 2G even though 3G signal is available (could be phone thing).

Was wondering what kind of deal will Three offer with their WiFi box. In US WiFi box = unlimited free calling to any US number.

AhmadCentral  Feb. 23, 2012 at 10:14

Yep, that's the only thing about three, no 2g fallback. But tbh im never really in a non 3g area so I don't need 2g. But obviously I understand that people in other areas need it. Three still have some 2g backup using orange, but this is only in areas where there is no 3g at all.

And I don't think home signal come with free calls. It just boosts your signal. It'll be used through retentions as a means of keeping customers mostly I think.

Vodafoneemployee111  Feb. 27, 2012 at 11:13

The home signal thing is basically vodafonrs sure signal thing. It uses wifi to improve signal in your house. At the moment its only avaliable for current/new customers on 24 month contracts/any contract that came with a 3 phone. NOT TRUE its availible to all customers business corporate pay as you go and the sure signal device can be purchased from any store or online at vodafone.co.uk vodafone have been voted fastest mobile broadband connection by top 10.com three years running at over 3.0 mb's and even recognised by O2 as the fastest network for data connectivity

krogothnx  Feb. 27, 2012 at 13:14

The home signal thing is basically vodafonrs sure signal thing. It uses wifi to improve signal in your house. At the moment its only avaliable for current/new customers on 24 month contracts/any contract that came with a 3 phone. NOT TRUE its availible to all customers business corporate pay as you go and the sure signal device can be purchased from any store or online at vodafone.co.uk vodafone have been voted fastest mobile broadband connection by top 10.com three years running at over 3.0 mb's and even recognised by O2 as the fastest network for data connectivity

i'm pretty sure he's saying the 3 wifi box thing isn't for every customer, not vodafone's offering.

AhmadCentral  Feb. 27, 2012 at 14:39

Yep, I was talking about three's home signal box. Sorry for any confusion

CTPAHHIK  Feb. 27, 2012 at 17:18

You pay for Vodafone box and use your broadband connection, what do you get in return? At least free landline and 0800 calling would be nice to have.

MobileRich  May. 22, 2012 at 10:29

There's some information about the best mobile data network at UK mobile data review

Not sure i completely agree with all the findings but there's some useful information.

CTPAHHIK  May. 23, 2012 at 07:44

I can confirm that Three has one of the best 3G coverages in UK. When traveling around country my phone either has signal or none. I have Three with 2G radio disabled. Any place that has 3G coverage other than Three will show up as "emergency only", but I'm getting no service 99% of the time.
Best 2G coverage is O2. Fortunately 2G is enough for emails, chat, google maps, and occasional browsing. No need for 3G network.

matt101101 / MOD  May. 23, 2012 at 07:53

Fortunately 2G is enough for....google maps
If you have the patience of a Saint :p.

Instupituous  May. 24, 2012 at 15:41

I have one of the 3 sure signal femtocells at home and it works very well. I used to get zero reception indoors and now it works perfectly. Doesn't seem to interrupt anything either.

satchef1  May. 25, 2012 at 00:31

Three have the largest 3G network in the UK, with the biggest capacity, best coverage, fastest speeds and lowest prices. Unfortunately, Three also have the worst overall coverage. When you have signal it's great. Always 3G, always fast, most tariffs give unlimited data. You can really use your devices to the best of their capability. As soon as the signal goes... nada. You ain't even making a phone call.

Everything Everywhere have the second best coverage, benefitting from the merger of T-Mobile and Orange. Prices (Orange), speeds (T-Mobile) and capacity (both) aren't anywhere near competing with Three though.

Vodafone fall third in line for 3G coverage, formerly second. The offering is fairly well balanced; decent speeds, good network capacity, fairly reasonable prices. They're yet to offer 'unlimited' tariffs though, and anything over 1GB data is very expensive. Typically they bundle 500MB to 750MB in with contracts, with an extra £5 buying you 500MB (if pre-arranged) or 250MB (if you simply run oer your data allowance.

O2 fall last. They were the last network operator to take 3G seriously, only putting big money in to expanding their network leading up to the iPhone 3G's launch. Before that they relied on Edge. 3G coverage is the poorest, capacity and speed is the lowest. Prices seem fairly reasonable though. O2 have the largest 2G network, with most of the country being covered up to Edge speeds.

If you're after London coverage then it's a different ball-game entirely. In certain areas (Canary Wharf is an excellent example), certain networks have a reputation for choking up regularly. Simply put, they don't have the capacity to meet demand in these areas, so data speeds grind to a halt. I'd have to check, but I believe it's Vodafone and O2 that have the biggest problems (which makes sense, they have the most corporate contracts, so I think I'm remembering correctly).

CTPAHHIK  May. 25, 2012 at 09:01

Three has exactly same problem with Canary Wharf, City of London and Piccadilly area. It's oversubscribed. I can confirm that similar problems occur with Vodafone and O2. I don't have Orange or T-Mobile, so they might actually be good in London. EE is my next provider to try.

mrew42  May. 25, 2012 at 15:38

I'm on Orange and in the CIty. On the occasions when Orange is dropping it;s signal, TMob comes to the rescue. I'm sure the opposite is true, but in essence I've rarely had an issue with 3g in the City.

Repo  May. 25, 2012 at 22:47

You play for Bradford City mrew42?

citibadger  Aug. 5, 2012 at 16:28

Vodafone data signal is poor to non existent in places. Okay when it works, O2 were great when I was with them. Vodafone wouldn't be my choice for consistency.

CTPAHHIK  Aug. 6, 2012 at 09:19

Verizon Wireless.

Woops, sorry. Wrong place ;)

matt101101 / MOD  Aug. 6, 2012 at 09:28

Verizon Wireless.

Woops, sorry. Wrong place ;)

Luckily, we don't have to sell our souls to the devil just to get mobile phone services, here in the UK ;).

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