SIM Only Coverage

Coverage Network coverage is one of the most important issues to be aware of when deciding which SIM contract is right for you. We’ve all experienced those frustrating times when we really need to make a call or send a text but there is no signal where we are, and the sometimes even greater frustration when a friend in the same location does have a signal but on a different network. With the rise of the mobile internet and ever greater use of data, 3G coverage has also come to the fore and mobile internet availability and speed can also be one of the biggest considerations for potential customers.

The mobile networks have all invested heavily in improving their availability and network quality over the last few years, but are struggling to keep pace with demand. In the 1990’s and the early part of this century, there was a race between the networks to see who could offer the widest coverage, usually measured by a percentage of the population rather than a percentage of the land, with most networks eventually getting to 98%+ population coverage. This still leaves some significant gaps and many people outside urban areas do find that they are not fully covered at home by all networks, or that the coverage is significantly better from some than others.

In addition to just ensuring that you can make and receive a call you should always consider how important mobile data is for you and check the 3G coverage in the main places you are likely to use your mobile regularly. The network’s coverage maps won’t give you a perfect indication of just how good the signal is but they do show whether there is strong or patchy coverage for both standard calls and texts and 3G data.

When checking coverage maps, remember to think not just about what the coverage is like at home but other places that you spend a lot of time, for example work, on a commute, friends and families houses, etc. You’ll never be able to predict with 100% accuracy everywhere you’ll be but if you do spot a blackspot from a network you were considering it could save a lot of frustration in the future.

One final thing to bear in mind is that T-Mobile and Orange merged in 2010 and whilst the brands continue as separate entities, customers of one can now make use of the network of the other, so Orange also benefits from T-Mobile coverage and vice versa.

Coverage maps change and are updated very frequently (O2 for example spend £1million a day on upgrading their network) so the best thing is always to check directly with the network’s websites. We’ve listed links to the coverage maps of all the main networks below.

  • For O2 coverage maps see here:
  • For Vodafone coverage maps see here:
  • For Orange coverage maps see here:
  • For T-Mobile coverage maps see here:
  • For Three coverage maps see here: