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Best and worst mobile networks 2020

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Last updated: 16 July 2021

Ofcom's annual customer-service report looks at how the major mobile network providers performed last year on factors such as customer satisfaction and value for money. Read our useful guide to find out who are the best and worst mobile network providers in the UK. 

Mobile network customer satisfaction - At a glance

Network Satisfaction with overall service Satisfaction with reception or signal strength Satisfaction with value for money
EE Mobile 93% 84% 84%
giffgaff 95% 86% 96%
O2 93% 85% 87%
Tesco Mobile 97% 92% 97%
Three Mobile 89% 75% 87%
Virgin Mobile 93% 84% N/A
Vodafone 90% 89% 83%
Average 93% 85% 87%

Best mobile network providers

According to Ofcom, more than nine in ten customers say that they are satisfied with their mobile phone service. Only 3% of mobile customers say that they have a reason to complain.

Among the best mobile network providers are Tesco Mobile. They had an amazing 97% overall satisfaction rating, and customers were very likely to recommend them to a friend. Their rating for reception and customer service were also above average. They had the least complaints per 100,000 customers and one of the shortest call waiting times. Since Tesco Mobile were added to the complaints table in 2014, no other mobile network provider has generated a lower number of complaints.

Other notable networks, with below-average complaints per 100,000 customers include EE, O2, iD Mobile and Sky Mobile. O2 also had short call waiting times and the lowest percentage of customers with a reason to complain.

Worst mobile network providers

Three did the worst in the recent ratings, with the lowest overall satisfaction and a bad score on reception satisfaction. Their call waiting time was also the highest and they had above the average number of complaints per 100,000 customers. There overall satisfaction may have been the worst of the surveyed companies, but it was still 89%, showing that other companies did exceptionally well.

Vodafone and Virgin Mobile had the most complaints per 100,000 customers and poor satisfaction with how well they handled complaints.

It is important to remember that these results simply show ratings based on customer satisfaction with their providers, and does not always correlate with the standard of the mobile network.

Mobile coverage

The most important thing to consider when looking for a network provider is whether you will have mobile phone signal in the main area that you are using your mobile device. A good standard of customer service is important, but if you have no service to call them then it won’t matter!

Make sure you have checked the coverage of your chosen mobile network before committing to them. Most of the larger providers will have a tool for checking coverage on their website.

How are they ranked?

Every quarter, industry regulator Ofcom collects a survey of overall customer satisfaction, including factors such as satisfaction with customer service, satisfaction with the service itself and value for money. It also provides a breakdown of complaints per 100,000 customers for each major provider.

Remember that the ranking only provides a snapshot into the happiness of customers for each provider. It does not necessarily relate directly to how good their mobile network service is, but can indicate when a provider is having more issues than normal. You must also remember that the complaints per 100,000 customers only shows you the number of customers who were so unhappy they escalated their complaint to the regulator. There may actually be far more unhappy customers per 100,000.

These rankings do not mean you should necessarily switch provider either. You may find that you have had no problems with your mobile network, but your provider is ranked badly by Ofcom.

Should I switch mobile network provider?

Even if you’re happy with your current mobile network provider, there may still be reasons to switch. If you’ve been with your current provider for a while then you may be paying far more than new customers are being asked to pay. By switching providers you will gain access to deals offered to new customers, so be sure to shop around regularly for cheap mobile deals.


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Danny Lord

Author: Danny Lord

Danny is our Editor-in-Chief, and has been writing news and guides for comparison sites for the last five years.