The UK currently has 4 network operators:
- EE (for Everything Everywhere, by British Telecom)
- O2 (by Telefónica)
- 3 (= Three by Hutchison)
3 and O2 agreed on a merger in 2014 and Hutchison wanted to buy O2 from Telefónica, but this was blocked in 2016 by EU competition regulators. About 50 MVNOs operate on EE, Vodafone and O2. 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz (except Three which has only 3G and 4G), 3G/UMTS is on 900 and 2100 MHz.
4G/LTE has been started in 2013 on all networks. Frequencies on 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz bands were granted. 4G is offered by all networks on prepaid now, but only on some MVNOs. In 2015 EE has the best 4G/LTE coverage at about 80% of population, while Vodafone, O2 and 3 have all around 60% coverage.
In the Eurotunnel between France and the UK Orange France is the only provider with 4G/LTE services available 100 metres below sea level when travelling from France to the UK. Coverage in the opposite direction is available from different UK operators.
Prepaid is often called "pay as you go (PAYG)" in the UK. The list starts with the network providers according to size followed by the most significant MVNOs on the market.
Nearly all networks have an expiry policy of six months since the last balance increase or decrease. Although this is official policy, it is usually sufficient to receive a call every six months because this generates revenue, albeit small, for the network. The most notable exception is Lycamobile which operates a 90-day expiry policy since the last balance increase or decrease in all of the markets in which it operates. For visitors, the easiest way to maintain validity while outside the UK, in order to keep both credit and the mobile number for future visits to the UK, is to send a roaming SMS every 6 months.
Prepaid SIM cards in the UK are delivered with a so called "Content Lock" in place. This is to protect children from accessing adult content. The problem is that a whitelisting approach is used for this, meaning that everything that has not been actively approved as non-adult will be treated as "adult".
This can seriously interfere with your internet accessibility, e.g. some users could not use their instant messaging services. Even emails and all "unguided" forums like Facebook or Twitter can be affected. However this can be bypassed using a VPN or proxy app/software to conceal your identity
The usual way to disable the content lock is to enter credit card data to prove your age; but this only works with UK-issued credit cards, and as a tourist you probably won't have one of those.Therefore when you buy a new SIM card in store insist that the lock will be removed right away (takes 1 minute). For this you may need to provide some form of ID to prove your age, if you look young.
Topping up your SIM online in many cases requires a UK-issued credit or debit card, but this is variable, even from one card to another with the same network. There are some private service providers on the net like mobiletopup.co.uk or Top Up UK who accept international cards and do it for a surcharge. Mobiletopup charges a flat per-order surcharge, no matter how many vouchers you buy. If you don't have a UK credit or debit card, you need to buy top-up vouchers which are widely available in shops throughout the UK, but refills from abroad not having one of these is tricky. Topping up via cash machines (ATMs) is also widely accepted but again you may only do this if you have a UK-based credit or debit card.
If you don't mind to buy one debit card to top-up another, you can order Revolut - MasterCard worldwide and use it to recharge UK SIM cards. This card is confirmed to work as UK-issued. Also you can try to buy UK prepaid gift cards and use them for recharging.
EE (formerly Orange and T-Mobile)Edit
EE (originally called Everything Everywhere) was created in 2010 after the merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK to become the largest operator in the UK under the joint ownership of Orange (formerly France Télécom) and Deutsche Telekom. British Telecom (BT) acquired EE in 2015/6. Some old devices show their network still as T-Mobile.
EE's 2G is on 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz with the best coverage in the UK at 98%. They were the first to start 4G/LTE in 2013 on 1800 Mhz and later on 800 and 2600 MHz too: EE coverage map. They have the best 4G coverage reaching almost 90% of population in 2015. 4G+ or double speed LTE is available in about 20 major cities so far. In benchmark tests EE is frequently the top scorer in the UK.
EE now only sells SIM cards with 4G/LTE included with no surcharge. Their prepaid SIM is called "4GEE" including 4G/LTE. 4G+ is "double speed" LTE with average download rates of 24-30 Mbps instead of 12-15 Mbps.
Data feature packsEdit
Their new packs all come with data, domestic voice and text included:
|Price||Data||Dom. Voice||Dom. Text||Time||Activation|
|£1||100 MB||10 mins||10||7 days||DP1|
|£10||1 GB||50 mins||50||30 days||DP10|
|£10||500 MB||150 mins||unltd.||30 days||EP10|
|£15||2 GB||500 mins||unltd.||30 days||EP15|
|£25||4 GB||1000 mins||unltd.||30 days||EP25|
To activate, go online on your EE account, use the EE app or text code to 14. 4G+ is double 4G speed through carrier aggregation topped at 24-30 Mbps. No data available outside of these packs.
Both combi micro/regular and nano SIMs.
More info Edit
- Tethering is officially allowed on every device, see here
- VoIP is allowed
- APN: everywhere
- T&Cs and further rates: EE
VodafoneEditVodafone in the UK has a good coverage on 2G (900 and 1800 MHz) and 3G (900 and 2100 MHz) nationwide, and are rolling out 4G/LTE on 800 and 2600 MHz now: Vodafone coverage map. They cover about 70% of population by LTE in 2015 making it the 2nd best LTE network.
Their 4G/LTE network is now accessible for prepaid customers on all plans.
You can purchase a SIM card online or from any Vodafone store for free. You can recharge it at their stores or many other kiosks or convenience stores throughout the country. This SIM needs to be activated by going online or calling 4354. Then you have to choose one of their Big Value Bundle schemes all valid for 30 days, which can be added by Data Freebees for more data
Big Value BundlesEdit
These combo plans are offered for 30 days on 4G/LTE too:
|price||dom. calls||dom. texts||data|
|£10||150 mins||unltd||500 MB|
|£15||250 mins||unltd||1 GB|
- The £30 bundle includes 100 mins, 100 txts and 500 MB roaming data for one month in the EU. ( PROMO: All bundles have this until 31st Aug 2016 then reverts to £30 bundle only)
- Internet overuse is charged with £1 per day for 25 MB, up to a maximum of 125 MB per day, then charged at 4p per MB thereafter.
- a £10 top up gives you 500 MB data "reward", meaning as data bonus
- a £20 top up gives you 1 GB data reward
- overuse is charged like on Big Bundle (see above)
Data-only SIM cardEdit
You can convert your SIM to a data card too. Thus no calls or texts are possible anymore. These packs are sold and are all on 4G/LTE too:
- £10 data pack for 1 GB in 30 days
- £15 data pack for 3 GB in 30 days
- £20 data pack for 10 GB in 30 days
When used up, you can buy a new pack ahead of time
Standard SIMs are freely available and can easily be trimmed down with scissors to fit the iPhone.
- APN: internet
- further infos: Vodafone
O2 UK has good coverage nationwide using 2G GSM on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G UMTS on 900 and 2100 MHz and has started LTE on 800 MHz only. O2 coverage map.. It has opened some of its prepaid products to 4G/LTE with a surcharge. It covers about 87% of the population with 4G/LTE in 800 towns in 2016, but has an obligation to reach 97% by 2017. As it only uses 800 MHz it concentrates more on wide coverage than on high speeds.
The SIM cards are for free ordered online or bought at their stores. Cashcards for top-ups can be found all over the country.
Big Bundles Edit
These combo plans are offered for 30 days:
|price||dom. calls||dom. texts||data|
|£10||250 mins||1000 SMS||500 MB|
|£10||100 mins||100 SMS||1 GB|
|£15||750 mins||2000 SMS||2 GB|
|£20||1500 mins||4000 SMS||3 GB|
|£25||3000 mins||4000 SMS||5 GB|
|£30||3000 mins||4000 SMS||6 GB|
Activation is online on your account or by calling 2202. Take care that you surf outside of these bundles at an excessive default rate of £3 per MB.
Simply Pay as you go Edit
These plans need to be topped up by min. £10 or £15 per month and receive these allowances as a bonus:
- when you top up for £10 or more per month: 50 MB data, 3000 O2 texts
- when you top up for £15 or more per month: 100 MB data, 3000 O2 texts, 3000 O2 mins
To select or change plans go online or call 2202. For more data see bolt-ons. Take care that you surf outside of these bundles at an excessive default rate of £3 per MB.
These data add-ons for extra data can be added to Big Bundles or Simply pay as you go and are valid for one month:
- 100 MB: £3
- 500 MB: £6
- 1 GB: £10
- 2 GB: £13
Bolt-ons don't auto-renew. Activation is online on your account or by calling 2202.
Standard, Micro SIMs and Nano SIMs are all available online via O2 website. However, if a nano SIM is needed then you can use online live-chat function to specify the required SIM type to the agent.
Possible on Android phones, but no official profile available for the iPhone.
- APN : payandgo.o2.co.uk
- User Name: payandgo
- Password : password
3 (= Three) UKEdit
3 (Three) has the smallest network of all operators in the UK but the most agressive pricing. Three is a 3G and 4G network only with only a voice/text fallback to EE 2G (at former Orange sites) in some low coverage areas. The text and call coverage can be much worse in the countryside compared to the three big ones. 3 coverage map You need to have a 3G UMTS phone on 2100 MHz and for 4G a device which can transmit on 800 and 1800 MHz. 2G-only phones don't work on Three.
Three has launched 4G services in late 2013 without surcharges. It covers about 53% of population with 4G in 2015 giving Three the lowest coverage in the UK, but growing fast.
The SIM card is given out for free. They have different products for phones and computers.
Pay as you go on ThreeEdit
This product is for smartphones only and doesn't include tethering. It will be blocked if detected. For tablets and modems see the Mobile Broadband offer.
Very low 1p per MB (that's £10 per GB)
Data feature packsEdit
These daily or monthly add-ons are offered to the Smartphone PAYG plans:
- internet daily pass: 120 MB for 24 hours: £0.50
- mobile internet pass: 500 MB for 30 days: £5
- all-in-one-10: 1 GB for 30 days at £10 (with 100 domestic mins and 3000 dom. texts)
- all-in-one-20: 12 GB for 30 days at £20 (with 300 domestic mins and 3000 dom. texts)
- all-in-one-25: all-you-can-eat data (1 TB fair use applies in the UK) for 30 days at £25 (with 500 domestic mins and 3000 dom. texts)
When data is used up you are free to buy another pack without waiting until the end of the previously bought add on pack. After data add-on is used up charges revert to the £0.01 per MB default rate, if another add on is not bought.
Purchase from a Three store for £10 which includes £10 credit, also available online. Extra credit can be bought from anywhere displaying the green 'top up' logo. Vouchers are available for £10, £15, £20, £25, £30 and £50 and must be activated within 90 days of purchase online or by calling 444. Credit doesn't expire on Three SIMs.
Their Mobile Broadband pay-as-you-go SIM is a data-only SIM with text but no voice calls for tablets, modems or routers. You can use it in smartphones too, to circumvent their tethering restrictions. They are often sold as ready-to-go kits with data volume preloaded:
- SIM card with 3 GB data valid for 3 months: £16
- SIM card with 12 GB data valid for 12 months: £30
You can top up online on your My3account with these data packages:
- pay-per-day: 500 MB for 48 hours: £2.99
- 1 GB in a month: £10
- 3 GB in a month: £15
- 7 GB in a month: £25
Data Reward SIM Edit
In 2016 Three introduced their new "Data Reward SIM" to match the offer of FreedomPop (see below). It's aimed at tablet and modems, but contains voice and texts too. So there seem to be no restrictions where to use it whatsoever.
- SIM card with 1 GB valid for 30 days: £10
When registered, the "Data Reward SIM" gives 200 MB high-speed data every month for free. This volume doesn't roll over, but can be used on their "Feel at Home" option too. The cycle depends on the day of activation. The "Data Reward SIM" can be added with these monthly bundles booked through your account:
- 2 GB: £15
- 5 GB: £20
- 10 GB: £25
All usage outside of these packages is at very low 1p per MB in the UK and 3.6-4.3p per MB in 'Feel like home countries'. You can register a maximum of 5 Data Reward SIM cards on your name.
"Feel At Home" Option Edit
This roaming option is available to all pay-as-you-go SIMs of Three UK and is valid in Austria, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Macau, New Zealand, Norway. Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland and in the US (on both AT&T and T-Mobile networks!!). It is enabled automatically when entering one of these countries above with a Three UK SIM on roaming and means that data is charged the same like in the UK with no roaming surcharges at all. More info in the European Union section of this WIKI at Euro3.
International Roaming Time Limits Edit
As of July, 2016, 3 began permanently deactivating international roaming on PAYG SIMs that have been roaming for more than two months. These SIMs will still work in the UK, but for the occasional visitor, it likely would not be possible to keep the SIM active by sending a roaming SMS every six months, since roaming would be deactivated. This is presumably to prevent individuals living in the EU, or in "Feel At Home" countries from permanently roaming at low rates.
Tethering is officially not allowed on any prepaid SIM card of Three. On their "Pay as you go" product, Three verifies if you use it on a smartphone by TTL detection; tablet and modem use is banned, as well as tethering to it. On their "Mobile Broadband" product, tethering is only officially banned, but not blocked. This means that you will not receive a profile to use it for tethering on an iPhone. Tethering from Android devices still works, on roaming too, verified 26/4/15, no matter what Three sales reps. are telling you.
As Three sells a combination of a Huawei E5330 Mobile WiFi (MiFI) with a preloaded 3GB/3 months SIM (http://store.three.co.uk/view/plan/MBBD02072014T090233) use in a MiFi seems to be permitted.
- SIM sizes; mini SIMs as standard. micro and nano SIMs may be available on request
- APN: three.co.uk
- Three price list: 3
Giffgaff is a wholly owned subsidiary of O2 UK, and operates as MVNO on O2 UK (for technical info see O2). Since 2nd September 2015, giffgaff has provided 4G/LTE at no additional cost.
GiffGaff SIMs can be ordered online to a UK address for free with delivery by 1st Class post usually within 2 to 3 days. Or you can be introduced by any member of giffgaff and get £5 free credit on activation. Until 30th May 2016, the member him/herself also receives 500 points worth £5 of balance on activation of the new SIM. From 1st June 2016, the member will receive 500 points only for the first 15 referrals in a lifetime. The SIM is despatched by giffgaff in the same way, not by the member, but giffgaff remembers that you were introduced by another member when you activate the SIM. If you would like to be introduced by an existing member with UK delivery, here are some member links to choose from:
There are also a couple of members who can send a free SIM card (with the above £5 free credit deal) to an address outside the UK so that you already have your SIM before you travel. In this case, the SIM is not despatched by giffgaff but by the member. The member uses some of the £5 free credit (until 30th May 2016) to fund the international postage, and therefore makes a loss if you do not subsequently activate the SIM (or do so from 1st June 2016 onwards). Here are the links for the order pages:
To activate your SIM on their website, you ideally need a UK-issued credit or debit card, otherwise you can credit your account with a top-up voucher. Some people have successfully used non-UK credit and debit cards by incorrectly entering a UK billing address. You can buy credit from many UK convenience stores and almost all supermarkets and petrol stations (ask for giffgaff or O2 cards) and can also buy top up vouchers online at private facilitators like mobiletopup.co.uk or Top Up UK for a surcharge. Mobiletopup charges a flat per-order surcharge, no matter how many vouchers you buy.
- Each day, 20p/MB for the first 1MB, then the subsequent 19MB are free, then 20p/MB for further usage that day.
Data feature packsEdit
- £5 for 500 MB per month
- £7.50 for 1 GB per month
Over-use is charged at 2p per MB.
Combined bundles ("goodybags")Edit
All these bundles come with included UK calls, texts and a combined 2G/3G/4G data volume:
|Price||UK calls*||UK texts||Data|
|£5||100 min||300||100 MB|
|£7.50||250 min||unlimited||500 MB|
|£10||500 min||unlimited||1 GB|
|£12||500 min||unlimited||2 GB|
|£15||1000 min||unlimited||4 GB|
|£18||2000 min||unlimited||6 GB|
- All bundles are valid for one month.
- (*) = Calls amongst giffgaff numbers are free.
- (^) = First 6GB each month at 4G speeds, then throttled at 256kbps from 8am to midnight.
- No "fair use policy" applies meaning unlimited data are really unlimited.
Giffgaff now issues trio-SIMs, i.e. a mini-SIM, micro-SIM and nano-SIM all in one.
Tethering is allowed on the bundle that has unlimited data included but is limited to 6gb.
Tethering is allowed on the other bundles, and limited to the data plan of each particular bundle.
- APN: giffgaff.com
- Username: giffgaff
- Password: [blank]
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries and further information (this is an e-mail address of a third party referrer, not for giffgaff).
Virgin Mobile is a MVNO that operates on the EE network on 2G and 3G only (see above)
Default data rateEdit
The "starter tariff" has a data rate of £1 per 100 MB
Data feature packsEdit
"Big data and texts" rewards (meaning doesn't debit) you with:
- for a top up of £10 with 3000 texts and 1 GB of data
- for a top up of £15 with 3000 texts and 3 GB of data
- Note: Reward texts and data are applied from the 1st of the calendar month following your top up and last all month. So you can use it only in the following month of your top-up..
- overuse rate is the default data rate (see above)
- to activate call 789 and press 3
Stock standard SIMs & Micro SIM
Tethering (at least on Android phones) and VoIP possible
If you want to use the Virgin Mobile SIM in a 3G Wifi Router, be aware you'll need to call the company through the SIM you're about to use for data (to activate the Big Data Pack). This may cause problems since routers are not made to call someone (duh!) Furthermore, if your 3G Router needs another SIM format than your phone, you might also encounter problems to activate the tariff.
There is no other way to activate the option than calling Virgin through the SIM. You cannot activate it via their website or SMS. In this case make sure you have an old phone available to activate the desired option.
- APN: goto.virginmobile.uk
Tesco MobileEditTesco Mobile is the MVNO of Britains leading retailer chain operating on the O2 network. From 2014 Tesco Mobile has allowed all customers on the O2 4G/LTE network without surcharges. From July 2016 they offer two different plans: Triple Credit and the new Rocket Packs. Both tariff lines can't be mixed, but switched online or by calling customer support at 282. You will loose all credited allowances when changing.
On the Triple Credit tariff you get free credit when you top-up which can be used on domestic consumption only. For a £10 top-up you get £30 credit, for £15 £45 and for £20 £60 worth of credit, only for the 1st top-up within a month. Furthermore, you can book data-only packages and unlike Rocket Packs combo package.
Default rate is £ 0.10 per MB. They offer these monthly packs for Triple Credit valid for 30 days:
|Data Volume||Price||Activation Code|
For activation, text code to 28948. Overuse is charged at the default rate (see above), all packages auto-renew after 30 days, to stop them from doing so, text STOPDATA to 28948.
Rocket Packs Edit
Their new combo package plan has been introduced in July 2016. This is a seperate plan or tariff line that can't be mixed with Triple Credit. You can only book these combo packages for 30 days:
|£5||100 mins||100 SMS||100 MB||ROCKET5|
|£7.50||250 mins||500 SMS||250 MB||ROCKET750|
|£10||500 mins||5000 SMS||500 MB||ROCKET10|
|£12.50||500 mins||5000 SMS||1 GB||ROCKET1250|
|£15||1000 mins||5000 SMS||2 GB||ROCKET15|
|£20||2000 mins||5000 SMS||4 GB||ROCKET20|
All call and text allowances are domestic except for the EU roaming promotion (see below). For activation go online or text code to 28948. All packs can be renewed ahead of time. Overuse fee is £0.10 per MB, but no data-only pack can be added.
EU Roaming Promotion: Home from Home Edit
From May 23th until September 3rd, 2016 Tesco mobile scraps all roaming surcharges in the EU and Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Customers on Triple Credit packs and Rocket packs will be able to call, text and use data abroad without incurring any extra charges as long as they stay within their domestic allowances. Any usage that does exceed included allowances will be charged at the same rate as in the UK. Roaming is on 2G and 3G networks only. Be aware, that the Triple Credit bonus can't be spent on roaming.
- T&C don't allow P2P, VoIP, continuos streaming and tethering
- APN: prepay.tesco-mobile.com
- Username: tescowap
- Password: password
ASDA Mobile Edit
ASDA Mobile is the MVNO of Tesco's biggest rival as retailer called ASDA. It used to operate on the Vodafone network. In 2014 they have migrated to the EE network (see EE above, but no 4G/LTE on ASDA mobile), which led to many complaints. Compared to Tesco, it has the better coverage on 3G, but lacks 4G speeds in the cities.
ASDA Mobile SIM cards can be bought online on their website or in many ASDA supermarkets and grocery stores throughout the UK: store locator for 50p. You can top up at any ASDA store or anywhere you see their logo buying a top-up voucher.
|Price||UK calls||UK texts||UK data||activation SMS|
|£5||100 mins||2000 SMS||100 MB||5 to 2732|
|£7.5||300 mins||Unlimited||500 MB||7 to 2732|
|£10||600 mins||Unlimited||1.5 GB||10 to 2732|
|£15||1000 mins||Unlimited||3 GB||15 to 2732|
|£20||Unlimited||Unlimited||6 GB||20 to 2732|
|£5||-----------||--------------||500 MB||Data 5 to 2732|
|£7.5||-----------||-----------||1 GB||Data 7.50 to 2732|
|£12.5||-----------||-----------||2 GB||Data 12.50 to 2732|
|£15||-----------||-----------||4 GB||Data 15 to 2732|
|£5||200 mins||2000 SMS||-----------||Talk 5 to 2732|
All packages are valid for one month. Overuse and out of bundle fee is the default rate of 5p per MB for data.
Stock hybrid mini/micro and nano sizes
- APN: everywhere
Mobile by Sainsbury's Edit
Sainsbury's has suspended the Mobile by Sainsbury's service in January 2016.
Lebara mobile is UK's leading ethno market provider operating on the Vodafone network (see above) on 2G and 3G only.
Default Data RateEdit
15p per MB charged, if no data bundle is booked or all data are used up.
Data feature packsEdit
Their data packages are valid for 30 days. For activation text code to 38885
- 500 MB: £5, activation: 'WEB500'
- 1 GB: £7.50, activation: 'WEB1GB'
- 2 GB: £10, activation: 'WEB2GB'
- 3 GB: £12.50, activation: 'WEB3GB'
You may only have one data pass active at any time. If you consume all of your data allowance, you will be charged the default rate or can buy an add-on. Data passes auto-renew on expiry. If you don’t have sufficient credit, Lebara will try to auto-renew for seven days or until you cancel auto-renewal. To cancel auto renew text WEB<size>*STOP to 38885 or opt out via your MyLebara account.
Lebara offers so-called "bolt ons" for extra data when the original package is used up:
- 200 MB: £3, activation: 'B200'
- 500 MB: £5, activation: 'B500'
- 1 GB: £7.50, activation: '1GB'
For activation text code to 38885. Be aware, that the bolt-ons are only valid for the rest of running time of the original package.
Further info Edit
- APN: uk.lebara.mobi Username: wap Password: wap
- Lebara mobile UK SIMs are distributed abroad by Travelers Mobile for a surcharge
LycamobileEditLycamobile is the main competitor of Lebara on the ethno market. It is a MVNO on the O2 UK network in 2G and 3G. The SIM is sold online or offline at stores for free.
Default Data RateEdit
9p per MB charged if no data bundle is booked or used up
Data feature packs Edit
- 500 MB in 30 days for £5, activation: text 5001 to 3535 OR Dial *139*5001#
- 1 GB in 30 days for £7.50, activation: text 7001 to 3535 OR Dial *139*7001#
- 2 GB in 30 days for £10, activation: text 1001 to 3535 OR Dial *139*1001#
- 3 GB in 30 days for £12.50, activation: text 1201 to 3535 OR Dial
- 6 GB in 30 days for £25, activation: text 2501 to 3535
Lycamobile will automatically renew your bundle once it expires. Charge for the bundle will be deducted from your main balance at the time of auto renewal of the bundle. To cancel the auto renewal dial *190# before the expiry date and follow the instructions or call Customer Services for free on 353 before the expiry date. For more data, these bolt-ons are offered, valid for the running time of the base package:
- 200 MB: £3, activation: text 601 to 3535
- 500 MB: £5, activation: text 602 to 3535
- 1 GB: £7.50, activation: text 603 to 3535
- 3 GB: £12, activation: text 604 to 3535
- 5 GB: £20, activation text 605 to 3535
Lycamobile offers cheap roaming bundles to be used in certain countries. For more info see Euro5.
- APN: data.lycamobile.co.uk
- Username: lmuk (that's lowcase L, not capital I)
- Password: plus
Post Office Mobile Edit
The UK Post Office is set to close down a shortlived attempt to build a UK mobile phone network service as its offering was unable to compete in the crowded British mobile telecoms market.
The MVNO service run by the UK’s Post Office is to be shut down on August 08th, 2016 after an unsuccessful trial period. The service launched in June 2015 ran on EE’s network and was seen as a play to compete with UK retail giants like Tesco and Sainsbury’s, which have similar offerings.
In a statement, the group announced it will stop selling to new mobile customers with immediate effect, while existing customers have three months to find a new provider before the service is withdrawn.
- APN: everywhere
Vectone Mobile is a MVNO using the EE network on 2G and 3G only (see above).
Their SIM can be purchased online or in many supermarkets, petrol stations and kiosks throughout the UK. Mini and micro SIMs are free, but nano SIMs need to be ordered online for £1.
- 9p per MB. A minimum balance of 50p is required to use data.
Data feature packsEdit
|£1||125 MB||24 hours||*125#|
|£3||250 MB||7 days||*250#|
|£5||500 MB||30 days||*500#|
Data pack will be auto-renewed once the validity expires. To opt out, call customer service at 322 or 020 7179 0134. Overuse is charged by the default rate.
- APN: webuk.mundio.com
- Internet cannot be used with Blackberry phones
- There are lot of complaints on the internet about Vectone's poor customer service
Delight Mobile Edit
Another very similiar MVNO from the same group is Delight Mobile operating on EE's good network in 2G and 3G only.
You can get a Delight Mobile SIM card by ordering a starter pack online or from the many shops showing the Delight Mobile sign. The starter pack is free, but you will need to top-up to start making calls.
Top-ups vouchers can be bought at Esso or Total petrol stations, Sainsbury's and Spar, supermarkets, Costcutter, WHSmith, PCWorld, Dixons, Wilkinson. For every top-up, you get data bonus:
- for £5 top-up, 10 MB per day for 7 days
- for £10 top-up, 10 MB per day for 15 days
- for £20 top-up, 10 MB per day for 30 days
Data feature packs Edit
Standard rate outside of packs is a very low 1p per MB. These monthly packs are available:
To check the remaining bundle units in your internet bundle, dial *1102#. All packages auto-renew, to unsubscribe dial *1103#. If you exceed your units limit. you pay standard prepaid rates. You can renew your bundle only after the end of your bundle validity period.
Technical details Edit
- APN: webuk.mundio.com
FreedomPop is a new US-based MVNO which started in September 2015 on the Three network in 3G only (for coverage see Three). The UK is their first commercial launch outside of the US with their new business model. They give out a small amount of data, calls and texts for free in hope that you buy more allowances later. FreedomPop plans to bring its service to seven other countries within the next year, and to over 20 markets by the year 2017.
Their SIM card can only be ordered online to be delivered to an UK postal address only. There are plans to sell it in stores, but they have not turned up yet. This makes it inconvenient for travellers, but as an exception we list online-only operators when they give out data for free. The SIM card however is sold for a price: £6.99 for start-up and UK delivery.
They started commercial operations in the UK in September 2015 and need to work on their 250,000 customers on the waiting list. So you can also expect some waiting time.
Every SIM card is linked to a credit or debit card for payment and top-ups. Non-UK issued cards are accepted.
Free allowances Edit
In every month 200 MB data, 200 domestic SMS and 200 domestic minutes are given out for free. Data overuse is charged at 1.5p per MB on the free plan. You can also earn more free data by taking part in third-party offers like filling in a survey or downloading a coupon.
Combo packages for pay Edit
These additional monthly bundles can be added:
- £8.99: 1 GB data, 1000 domestic texts, 1000 domestic minutes
- £11.99: 2 GB data, unlimited domestic texts and minutes
Extra data as overuse for pay plans is 1p per MB, instead of the 1.5p/MB on the free plan.
You can roll over unused data to the next month for £1.49 per month. A maximum of 500 MB can be rolled over and a maximum of 20 GB can be stored.
Beware of a few catches. You should immediately turn off "auto top-up" on your online account, which is turned on by default. Here is why:
- They will automatically top up your account by £10 of credit when you’re within 100 MB of your download allowance. This means you’re only able to use 100 MB without paying anything extra using auto top-up.
- As payment details are held on record and used automatically for when you incur additional charges, it’s very easy to accidentally run up a bill by surprise. If you’d like to receive a notification when your allowances have been used up, they charge an extra 99p per month for this service.
All calls are routed via VoIP. This means that you need to have a stable and pretty fast data connection to make calls. This is a service, that Three is not always renowned of and beta testers have been critical of the sound quality. For classical voice telephony you'll pay another £1.49 per month for their "premium voice add-on".
More info Edit
- APN: three.co.uk
- Website: http://uk.freedompop.com
CTExcel is the brand name used by China Telecom for its MVNOs operating outside greater China. Note that unlike SIMs sold on networks they operate themselves, there is no censorship on this SIM. While they target Chinese in particular, anyone can sign up for a CTExcel SIM. In the UK, they use the EE network. As a rarity among EE MVNOs, they allow to use the LTE network too. However, CTExcel is unique among UK carriers in charging a one-time surcharge of £2 to use LTE, payable upon purchase of the SIM.
Their primary way of distributing SIMs is by mail; they can be ordered online to be sent to any UK postal address with an initial top-up required. If you choose to purchase a SIM in this manner, you will receive an e-mailed activation code that you must type into the CTExcel website to activate the SIM once it is received.
They also have a network of partners that sell their SIMs (list of outlets). Note that some partners also carry their "Europe SIM", which is their product intended for EU roamers; prices are not particularly good for that product so it will not be mentioned further. They are primarily Chinese supermarkets and travel agencies, with the exception of SIMLocal at Heathrow Terminal 3 Arrivals. This also means that if you are heading to a rural area, it is best advised to order by mail or buy one in a larger city first.
Top-ups can be done at any PayPoint or Payzone-supporting merchant while in the UK, as well as online with any international (not only UK-issued) Visa/MasterCard or PayPal from inside or outside the UK.
CTExcel will charge a one-time £2 fee for an LTE-capable SIM, or to upgrade a previous 3G SIM to an LTE SIM. All bundles ordered on that SIM will have LTE as long as the SIM remains valid. The free SIM option does not include LTE.
They have three types of bundles, depending on what you need. All stand-alone bundles are valid for 30 days, while add-ons are valid until the end of the existing bundle.
Super Value (combo) Edit
- £7.50: 300 UK minutes, unlimited UK text, 400 MB UK data, text UN75 to 888 to activate
- £11.90: 500 UK minutes, unlimited UK text, 2 GB UK data, text UN119 to 888 to activate
- £20: unlimited UK talk/text and 3 GB UK data, text UN20 to 888 to activate
Call-Home (combo) Edit
- £16.90: 1200 Greater China minutes, 1000 UK minutes, unlimited UK text, 3 GB data, text UN169 to 888 to activate. Greater China is defined as mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Data only Edit
- £5: 600 MB UK data, text DA5 to 888 to activate
- £10: 3 GB UK data, text DA10 to 888 to activate
These add-ons must be applied to an existing bundle for extra data; they can't be purchased on their own:
- £5: 600 MB UK data, text AO5 to 888 to activate (only letter O)
- £8: 1024 MB UK data text AO10 to 888 to activate (first letter O, then number 0)
Like Lycamobile, CTExcel practices a 90-day expiry policy. If you do not use your SIM (topping up the SIM doesn't count) for 90 days, it will expire. As it roams in most countries, a roaming SMS at least every 90 days is recommended to keep it active.
More info Edit
- APN: tslpaygnet
- Website: http://www.ctexcel.com