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Which provider has the best 4G network coverage in the UK?

Tuesday, June 6th 2017

With most mobile providers now offering 4G, figuring out which is the best is trickier than ever. With differing data limits, network coverage and contract lengths, it’s easy to get confused when you’re looking for the best mobile deal.

Fortunately, the increase in competition means that providers are doing more than ever to win your custom. Here’s what you need to know about your various 4G options.

EE has the best 4G network coverage in the UK

EE has the widest 4G coverage in the UK and the fastest download speeds. In some areas customers can benefit from double-speed 4G in certain upgraded areas, with download speeds of up to 60Mbps on offer.

EE offers both 30-day and 12-month contracts as well as pay-as-you-go. Data options range from 250MB for £9.99 per month to £39.99 for 30GB per month.

Check EE 4G Coverage

Other 4G providers

If, for any reason, you decide EE is not for you, you have a plentiful choice of alternatives for 4G provider as almost all of them now offer 4G. The four main networks - Vodafone, O2, Three and EE - all over 4G as do most of the MVNOs who use them, such as Tesco, giffgaff and Virgin Mobile.

The list below includes all UK providers offering 4G, along with a summary of each provider to help you choose.

If you are trying to decide between two providers – Vodafone vs EE for example – you can do that easily by using our SIM-only comparison tool. Simply click on any of the providers listed at the top of the comparison page and you can see them all listed. Click on any of the blue links below to take you straight to our comparison page.

Vodafone

The oldest UK mobile network launched 4G around the same time as O2 and rollout continues throughout the country, but there are still huge areas limited to 3G.

Vodafone's prices start from £9.50 for 250MB to £37 for 20GB of data. In terms of extras, on select Vodafone deals you will receive the choice of a free 12-month subscription to either Now TV, Spotify or Sky Sports. As a bonus, Vodafone is so confident in its customer satisfaction that it offers its Network Satisfaction Guarantee, whereby you have 30 days within which you can cancel your contract without being charged if you are unhappy with the service.

Vodafone SIM-Only Deals

Virgin Mobile

Virgin Mobile has finally joined the 4G party, now offering widespread coverage over the EE network. It offers a range of SIM-only, pay-as-you-go and data SIM-only deals to complement its fast home broadband service, although you do not have to be a Virgin broadband customer to take advantage of the deals on offer.

With only four SIM-only deals on offer - all of which are on a 30-day contract – Virgin's prices start from £6 for 300MB of data and go up to £25 for 20GB of data.

Virgin Mobile customers can keep any unused data which will roll over to the next month as well as enjoy free messaging on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Virgin SIM-Only Deals

O2

O2’s 4G coverage is rapidly growing across the UK, although it still doesn't have the coverage of EE. It comes with some great perks in the form of O2 Priority, which offers highstreet discounts and advance booking for shows and events. O2 has a good customer service reputation, but its prices aren't cheap.

O2's SIM-only deals are available on both 30-day and 12-month contracts. Prices range from £10 for 250MB of data to £34 for 16GB.

O2 SIM-Only Deals

Tesco Mobile

The supermarket giant shares O2’s infrastructure and launched its 4G service not long after its parent network.

Tesco offers a wide range of SIM-only deals, available on one-month, 12-month or 18-month contracts. Prices start from £7.50 for 500MB of data to £17.50 for 12GB.

Tesco SIM-Only Deals

giffgaff

Giffgaff launched its 4G service in June 2014, and piggybacks on the O2 network. It offers some of the most affordable prices, and giffgaff’s SIM-only deals run for just 30 days, making it easy to switch if you want. The drawback is that 4G coverage is quite limited, but if you can get it, it’s definitely worth a look.

giffgaff SIM-Only Deals

BT Mobile

BT is the latest provider to launch its 4G mobile service. It has partnered with EE to form BT Mobile. BT Mobile introduced its 4G plans in March 2015. It offers some of the cheaper tariffs. However, BT only offers a limited number of SIM plans.

BT Mobile SIM-Only Deals

Three

The only provider to offer unlimited data on 4G with the All-you-can-eat plan, Three is a good choice for heavy users. Three’s 4G plans cost the same as its 3G deals and existing customers are upgraded to the faster service for free when it reaches their area.

Three SIM-Only Deals

iD Mobile

Carphone Warehouse’s mobile provider iD Mobile offers budget-friendly SIM-only and pay monthly deals. It piggybacks on Three’s 4G network. It also offers capped plans with its ShockProof tariff.

iD SIM-Only Deals

TPO

TPO, which stands for The People’s Operator, is an affordable 4G SIM-only provider operating on the speedy Three network. With data limits capped at 6GB it’s not for everyone, but the average user will likely find a plan to suit their needs. Plus, 10% of what you spend each month goes to a charity of your choice.

TPO SIM-Only Deals

Plusnet Mobile

Plusnet is the latest broadband provider to add a mobile arm to its services. Data options range from 500MB to 4GB, and existing Plusnet customers can benefit from discounts. Plusnet Mobile piggybacks on EE, offering good coverage across the country.

Plusnet SIM-Only Deals

Frequently asked questions

What is 4G?

4G is simply the fourth generation in mobile telecommunication technology, it carries your mobile calls, text messages and internet data wirelessly through the airwaves with impressive speed and efficiency.

The main draw of 4G is superfast mobile internet access. 4G lets you get online quickly to enjoy video, music, and social media seamlessly and without interruption and when you download something – be it an album, app or email attachment – it’s available in a matter of seconds.

EE was the first UK mobile network to provide a 4G service back in 2012 but has since been joined by O2, Vodafone and Three as well as several other ‘virtual’ providers that utilise these four main networks. You can learn more about these providers in the sections above.

What do I need to get 4G?

Be in a 4G-supported area

4G isn’t available everywhere just yet but most urban and suburban areas are covered by one or more 4G networks. We’ll tell you how to check coverage where you are in the next section.

Have a 4G SIM

You need to sign up to one of the UK’s several 4G providers, either as a pay-as-you-go, SIM-only or pay-monthly customer.

Have a 4G-ready mobile phone, tablet or other device

Most new smartphones and tablets are equipped for 4G but some older models may only support 3G. Check with the device manufacturer if you’re unsure.

How do I check 4G coverage in my area?

Below are all 4G providers currently available in the UK, you can check the coverage of your preferred network by following the link to its dedicated online availability checker.

Some providers have better 4G coverage than others; you can see how they compare at the top of this guide.

Why do we need your postcode?

Once you enter your postcode, Cable.co.uk will perform a live lookup and check all the available providers in your area.

This ensures you receive accurate information on the availability of providers and packages in your area.

Your information is safe with us. We won't share your postcode with anyone. Guaranteed.

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