These are the Top 5 mobile network providers in the UK according to independent consumer organisation Which?
The Top 5 mobile network providers in the UK were ranked on an array of factors including value for money and crucially customer service.
Some 6,135 of Which?’s members rated the networks for the report, which covered over thirteen networks in the UK.
Because the big four mobile networks have a monopoly on the mobile spectrum, the other networks reviewed in the report have to partner with one of these networks to power their Sims, as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).
One of the idiosyncrasies of the report: that some of the top performing networks are actually operating on the network infrastructure of the bottom-ranked providers…
The Top Five Mobile Network Providers in the UK, 2019
GiffGaff is a mobile virtual network operator. This means that it does not own the infrastructure on which its sim cards are powered. This is the case for all of the top three best performing networks identified by Which?
EE, O2, Vodafone and Three have a monopoly over the mobile spectrum, yet these companies are also the only ones really capable of building large scale mobile infrastructure, especially now that 5G is on the horizon.
As a result GiffGaff uses O2’s network and thus has the same mobile coverage as O2. GiffGafff users have access to 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage.(If you want to check what coverage your network is providing in an area Which? have created an interactive live coverage map that can be used here.
Nearly all of those surveyed by Which? said that they believe the service provided by GiffGaff ranked good or excellent when it comes to value for money.
GiffGaff does not offer traditional phone contracts instead they sell monthly pay-as-you-go Sim cards that can be topped up with credit or bundle deals.
The deals are called ‘Goodybags’ and they start at £5 which provides you with 150 minutes, 500MB and 500 texts.
2: Utility Warehouse
Utility Warehouse is a mobile virtual network operator and has partnered with EE to provide coverage to its customers. It offers 2G, 3G, and 4G coverage.
Utility Warehouse is owned by Telecom Plus and operates not just as a mobile network, but as a multi-utility provider. It provides residential homes with utility services such as gas and electric and is one of the UK’s largest independent energy suppliers. Its customers receive discounts depending on how many of Utility Warehouses services they are signed up to.
This carries across to their mobile network where deals start at £10 for 500MB, 450 minutes and unlimited texts. Their discount deals kick in when you have signed up for their other utility services such as their mobile, phone and broadband bundle which gives you an extra 2GB of monthly data and free mobile phone protection.
3: Plusnet Mobile
Plusnet Mobile was ranked third best in the Which? survey and as with all top three ranked networks it is a mobile virtual network operator. It uses EE’s mobile infrastructure.
Many readers will know Plusnet as broadband provider, but the company has been playing in the mobile market since 2016. Plusnet was bought by BT in 2007 and following BT’s acquisition of EE in 2016, Plusnet found itself in charge of LIFE; a mobile virtual network operator. It subsequently rebranded LIFE Mobile Plusnet Mobile.
Plusnet’s deals start at £6 for a one month contract of 500MB, 250 minutes and 500 texts, while £10 buys users 2GB of data, 1500 minutes and unlimited texts.
Nearly all of its incentives and deals are tied into its broadband network services.
4: Tesco Mobile
As with the top three networks Tesco Mobile is also a mobile virtual network operator, in this case its coverage is provided by O2’s mobile infrastructure. Unlike the top three, Tesco Mobile actually operates over 400 phone stores across the UK.
The Which? survey found Tesco Mobile’s deals to be some of the most competitive on offer in the market. Its cheapest deal is £7.50 per month offering 500 minutes, 5,000 texts with 1MB of data.
The telecoms regulator Ofcom publishes data on the complaints it receives about mobile networks, however it only publishes data on mobile operators with a significant market share; as result Tesco Mobile is the only network provider in the top five to have data published about it by Ofcom.
In Ofcom’s published complaints report Tesco Mobile earned the envious position of having the least complaints submitted against it. Ofcom recorded in the third quarter that only one per 100,000 customers complained about the network. In comparison Vodafone, the worst ranked network, had eight complaints per 100,000 customers.
5: ASDA Mobile
ASDA Mobile is also a mobile virtual network operator and is partnered with EE. While EE’s network infrastructure is well able to handle 4G coverage, ASDA Mobile only rolled out this service to their customer in the spring of 2017, up till then their users had to make do with data speeds restricted to 2G and 3G coverage.
The network offers numerous 30-day bundles all dependent on how much credit customers top up a Sim card with. £5 pound buys 125 minutes, 2000 texts and 200MB of data. Its top offer is a £25 package that gives you unlimited minutes and texts with 15GB of data.
The Which? survey states that: “Asda Mobile doesn’t have the range of incentives offered by other networks. But its out-of-bundle prices are extremely low – 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB.”