United Kingdom 4 Major Telecom Operators Analysis

There are currently four major telecoms operating in the UK, and several Mobile virtual network operators(MVNO) working with these four carriers. Since June 2017, the EU has abolished roaming charges within the EU, which means that regardless of whether you use a monthly plan, a prepaid card or Pay As You Go, you will pay the same rates for internet and call charge when traveling in the EU as you would in your home country, and you do not need to pay roaming charges.

Currently, 28 member countries of the European Union, includes Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are benefit from this regulation, but not Switzerland.

The European cross-country sim cards sold by British carriers are available on many channels around the world, but the countries supported by each carrier are different, and the plans and network quality are also a bit different, so let’s get to know these four carriers before purchasing!

Introduction of 4 major telecom in the UK

EE (Everything Everywhere)
EE is part of the BT Group, the UK's largest telecoms company offering 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services, is now the largest 4G network provider in Europe with nearly 30 million subscribers. As the leading telecom provider in the UK, EE's 4G coverage, stability and speed are among the best in the industry, also the first telecom provider to offer 5G network services. Overall, EE's products are well received, but relatively expensive.
O2 is the second largest carrier in the UK, and also offers 2G, 3G and 4G network services. O2's network coverage in the UK is quite extensive, but 4G network speed is not very fast, and the number of European countries that can roam 4G network is relatively small, such as Switzerland, Turkey and Russia are not included, so you should pay special attention before purchasing. In addition, Giffgaff, a very famous virtual mobile carrier in the UK, is also on O2's network.
Vodafone is a multinational telecom company headquartered in London, with its own network in 25 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, with more than 300 million subscribers, making it the second largest mobile telecom provider in the world. Vodafone is a good choice for business people who need to travel to and from European countries, and Vodafone has many physical stores, so you can go to the stores directly if you have questions.
Three is a strong competitor to the UK carriers. Although its market share in the UK is relatively low, its affordable and diversified product plans have attracted many customers. It has many loyal customers due to stable signal and network speed in the UK. Its "Go Roam" service allows roaming in 73 countries around the world, which means that 3 Telecom plans purchased in the UK can roam directly in these countries at the same rate as in the UK, with no additional charges.

4G band of the UK telecom

4G/LTE band 1800(B3) 2600(B7) 800(B20)

How to choose internet service for you?

There are three main types of plans in the UK. My suggestion is that consider your needs with only data or include call, the length of time you will be using the service, the quality of each carrier, the price of the plan, etc. 

Pay As You Go

It is the best solution for people who are studying or traveling in the UK for a short period of time. They can use as much as they want without worrying about the contract. The card can be purchased at all major telecommunication stores, supermarkets and airports. Top-up method is very convenient as well.

Sim Only/ Pay Monthly

The most common options are 1-month and 12-month contracts, with some telecoms offering a 24-month option.

Contract Mobile Phone

It is the best solution for people who are living in the UK for a long time and also want to change your cell phone. You can refer to the long term contract of your cell phone, usually 18 or 24 months.

Roaming in European of 4 major telecom

It’s very common to travel around Europe if you stay in one of the European country. There are plans for  people from the UK roaming to other European countries with the UK’s telecom sharing:

sim card


I have studied in the north of the UK and used Giffgaff Sim card.  I switched to 3 Telecom’s Pay As You Go because the signal of this provider was weak in my town. I suggest that if you are staying in the UK for a long time, you should check if there is a strong provider in your area. All in all, I was able to roam directly to several popular European countries, and although there were only 3G signals in the remote areas, I was able to use it without too many problems, and I was able to recharge it quickly on the official website (using a UK credit card). The support for roaming in 73 countries is really powerful.

This article is especially recommended for those who are going to the UK for short or long term work, study or travel. There are more chances to use local phone numbers to make calls and send SMS. Vodafone is suitable for business people who will travel across Europe. We suggest you to check which local telecom is more stable and whether there is a physical store before comparing the price and plan type.


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