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UK mobile networks

Network operators

To make and receive calls on a mobile you need a network operator. Who are they in the UK and what do they provide? We will tell you all you need to know about mobiles phone network operators.

UK mobile networks

Your choice of network determines the coverage you receive, the price you pay for calls and the phones that are available.

Changing your mobile network is simple - but if you already have a mobile phone contract, you will need to wait until your contract ends or be prepared to buy out the remainder of your contract if you want to change your mobile network.

Currently there are five mobile phone networks in the UK: Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone.

Virtual Network Operators (VNOs)

Virtual Networks Operators (VNOs) buy airtime in bulk from one of the five networks and resell it under their brand name. Examples include Virgin who use the T-Mobile network and Tesco Mobile which uses O2.

Network operators and 3G

All major network operators in the UK have upgraded from second generation (2G) GSM networks to third generation (3G) standard. 3G networks provide high speed internet access, enabling you to make video calls and download music, video clips, games and other interactive content on the move.

Close to 99 per cent of the UK is now connected to the 3G network. In the future, networks will start to offer the new fourth generation (4G) which is currently being tested in small scale for a nationwide rollout in the near future.