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Last updated: 15 July 2021
After you compare mobile phone deals
and prices, and you finally settle on the perfect handset, you face yet another hard decision - which mobile network is best for you. If you regularly work, stream or play games on the move, then good mobile internet will be crucial. This guide will discuss the internet options for all major mobile networks
, helping you pick the best network for you.
Who are the main networks?
There are only four mobile networks in the UK - Three, EE, Vodafone and O2. However, there are a number of other networks who don’t have their own network space but rather ‘piggyback’ these four, known as MVNOs. For example, Giffgaff uses O2, while BT Mobile uses EE.
When choosing an MVNO, you should make sure you know which network it piggybacks, as this will determine your 4G coverage. Your first step, therefore, should be to use an online postcode coverage checker to identify the best network for your local area.
You can then decide whether you want to use the network itself as your network provider, or opt for a piggybacker. When considering all of the following options, remember that choosing a mobile network is specific to you and your personal needs - this serves simply as a guide.
Is EE a good choice for mobile internet?
EE was formed after the merger of T-Mobile and Orange. Since it was formerly two separate networks, it has a very wide coverage, spanning most of the country with only a few grey areas. So, if a mobile internet connection is a priority for you, EE's network is a great choice. However, this comes at a cost - EE mobile phone deals are on the pricier side, but it may be worth it if you want to be confident that you can go online no matter where you are.
EE also offers free EU roaming, which is something to keep in mind if you regularly cross the sea, whether for business or recreation. EE also gives you the option to set data caps, to prevent you going over budget. You can also get a monthly data boost of up to 20GB if you are, or are willing to become, an EE Broadband customer.
Virgin Mobile - EE piggybacker
Virgin Mobile’s mobile internet perks include the rollover of unused mobile data from one month to another, and the ability to use of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter without using up your data allowance. You can also change your 4G plan every month if you wish.
Plusnet - EE piggybacker
With Plusnet Mobile you can set monthly price caps for your data in order to stay within your budget, and will face no extra charges for tethering (setting up a mobile hotspot).
Is O2 a good choice for mobile internet?
O2 charges more than some of its competitors, but you can be sure to get good coverage nationwide. However, you cannot cap your data usage, so make sure to keep track of how much you are spending.
Giffgaff - O2 piggybacker
Giffgaff offers extremely competitive SIM-only deals, with the customer paying for ‘goodybags’ of texts, calls and data, including an unlimited data plan for just £25 a month. This is likely to be appealing if you get through a lot of data very quickly.
Sky Mobile - O2 piggybacker
With Sky, you pay for how much data you want, so if its flexibility you’re after it may be a good choice. An additional perk is their Piggybank Rewards scheme, which allows you to cash in any unused data in order to save on phones, tablets or accessories.
Tesco Mobile - O2 piggybacker
Tesco Mobile offers reasonably priced SIM-only deals and contracts, and you will benefit from O2’s reliable and widespread mobile coverage.
Is Three a good choice for mobile internet?
Three offers unlimited data bundles for decent prices, which will definitely be worth a look if you’re after a large allowance. Their Go Binge feature is also very attractive, allowing you to stream TV on apps such as Netflix and TVPlayer, and music from apps such as Soundcloud and Apple Music, without eating into your data allowance. Their Go Roam Around the World feature lets you roam for free in over 20 countries outside of Europe, so it is a great option for frequent travellers too.
Is Vodafone a good choice for mobile internet?
Vodafone has gained somewhat of a reputation for sub-par customer service, but it provides reliable 4G data connections and offers Global Roaming, so you can use your normal data allowance at no extra cost in 152 destinations.