Mobile Broadband Coverage And Speed
 
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Mobile Broadband Coverage and Speed

Check coverage maps and discover which are the fastest networks

Mobile Broadband Coverage

One of the most important factors when deciding which network to go with is the mobile broadband coverage each offers in your area. Mobile broadband coverage is dependent on the 3G network so is not as widespread as general mobile phone coverage, however all of the networks, especially Three and Vodafone, have invested heavily in rolling out 3G coverage to most of the population (it's worth bearing in mind also that T-Mobile and Orange customers can now access both networks). You can check the mobile broadband coverage by postcode for each of the networks below or scroll down for some information about network speeds.:

 

Three Mobile Broadband CoverageCheck Three coverage here

 

O2 Mobile Broadband Coverage Check O2 coverage here


Vodafone Mobile Broadband CoverageCheck Vodafone coverage here


EE LogoCheck EE coverage here


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Mobile Broadband Speed

As well as mobile broadband coverage you should think about the speed of the Internet connection you are going to get. Mobile broadband speed can vary dramatically depending on location. At it’s best you can get speeds of up to 7.2MB per second with most of the networks but this does depend on a lot of factors including how up to date the technology used in the network base station you are connected to is, how close you are to the base station and how many people are sharing the connection with you at that time. Below is a summary of average performance by network but generally the most important thing is to check the coverage maps and ensure you have good mobile broadband coverage where you expect to use the service, this is the single biggest factor in determining the speed you are likely to get. Also remember that as long as you buy online, whichever network you buy from, you are covered by distance selling regulations which means that you are entitled to a full refund and cancelation of any contract within 14 days if you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase

You can find out more about mobile phone coverage at www.coverage-maps.co.uk


Three Mobile Broadband SpeedThree Mobile Broadband Speed:
Three (along with Orange) claim to have the best mobile broadband coverage in the UK. The three service uses next generation HSPA+ technology to offer speeds of up to 21 megabits per second, however, they claim that realistically you should usually expect to get speeds in the ranfe of 1-2 megabits per second using their service. In our testing we have seen speeds well in excess of this (4.5 MBps is the fastest Three speed we've yet seen) but that claim is probably a fair average. Three’s 3G network covers well over 90% of the population and their aim is for 98% coverage by the end of the year. This means you can generally expect to get a good 3G signal as long as you aren’t in a very rural location.

 

Orange Mobile Broadband SpeedOrange Mobile Broadband Speed
Orange have been involved in a legal battle with Three about which network can legitimately claim to have the best 3G coverage and whilst it is difficult to say one is definitively better than another as they measure their coverage in different ways it is fair to say that you can also assume excellent coverage from Orange which means they should have amongst the fastest speed. In theory the Orange network is capable of delivering speeds of up to 7.2 Megabits a second but as with Three the realistic speed you can expect to receive in a good 3G coverage area is probably closer to 1 megabit per second. The fastest Orange speed we've found in our testing has been 1.9MBps

 

T-Mobile Broadband SpeedT-Mobile Mobile Broadband Speed
T-Mobile have won multiple awards for the quality of their mobile broadband deal and they do deliver a very good service. The recent tie up with Orange means they will now share 3G networks so you can expect to get at least the level of 3G coverage that Orange offer and perhaps slightly more when the two are combined. This should also mean faster speeds as the coverage will be spread between a greater number of network base stations. The T-Mobile dongle is capable of delivering speeds of up to 7.2 Megabits per second and they claim that most users get speed of between 1 and 2 MBps. 2MBps is certainly possible, particularly in London and the South East where T-Mobile is notoriously strong but in other areas it is probably safer to assume a speed of, or around 1MBps which has been the average in our testing in various locations.

 

Vodafone Mobile Broadband SpeedVodafone Mobile Broadband Speed
Vodafone has long made a point of advertising the quality of it’s network and indeed they do have very broad coverage but they also have a lot of users on their network which can potentially slow access down. As with the networks above, Vodafone are theoretically capable of delivering speeds of up to 7.2 megabits per second but the average speed they claim in actually 0.2 – 0.5 megabits per second. Although this does sound slower than the other networks we believe Vodafone may be underselling themselves a little here, in areas with good coverage for example we've regularly tested Vodafone mobile broadband at around 1.5MBps and over. For more info see Vodafone's FAQs on this.

 

O2 Mobile Broadband SpeedO2 Mobile Broadband Speed
Despite having the most customers of any single UK network (not counting Orange and T-Mobile’s semi-merger) and excellent standard coverage, O2’s 3G coverage lags a little behind some of their other rivals, however whilst this might mean that you are less likely to get a good 3G service outside major population centres it doesn’t necessarily means that the speed will be slower where there is coverage as they have invested heavily in their network quality where they do have 3G. One thing to bear in mind is that the maximum possible speed for O2 mobile broadband is currently 7.2 MBps which is slower than someof its rivals and in tests it does seem to perform a little slower although as always this is subject to where you are at a given time when you try to use it. On average you can still expect a speed of somewhere in the region of 0.5 – 1MBps in good coverage but that good coverage might be harder to find. One thing you may also want to consider is that O2 Mobile broadband includes access to The Cloud and BT OpenZone WiFi hotspots which does mean you can connect to those for free when in range.