A simples guide

Which phone network am I currently on?

There’s certainly been plenty of movement in the UK mobile space and it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. You think of what you might consider a household mobile brand name like Orange for example. Orange merged with German owned operator T-Mobile to form EE. EE has subsequently stopped offering new Orange tariffs and Orange is now essentially defunct in the UK.

EE itself has also been in the news this year after BT announced it was intending to buy the company for £12.5 billion.

So which networks are there in the UK?


Which mobile network operators are available in the UK?

If we asked you that question, you’d probably be able to rattle off a list that contained many of the companies offering mobile phones in the UK today. The list would include:

  • O2
  • EE
  • Three Mobile
  • Vodafone
  • Virgin Media
  • Giffgaff
  • Mobile by Sainsbury’s
  • Tesco Mobile
  • ASDA mobile
  • Co-op mobile
  • BT Mobile
  • TalkTalk
  • Talkmobile
  • iD Mobile
  • LIFE Mobile

And you might still be on Orange or T-Mobile although they are now owned by EE and no longer taking on new customers.

There are also a host of other smaller providers not listed above.

Loads of networks then?

Sounds like there are plenty of operators in the UK right? Well it might surprise you then to hear that there are actually only four mobile networks in the UK and the remainder, “piggyback” off these networks. This means that the other operators buy network space from the big four.

So EE provides coverage for BT ASDA, Co-op, Virgin, and Life Mobile as well as its own customers.

O2 provides coverage for Giffgaff, and Tesco as well as its own customers.

Three provides iD with coverage in addition to its own customers.

Vodafone provides coverage to TalkTalk mobile along with its own.

mobile phone

Why do I care?

Piggybacking operators can be helpful if you live in an area with restricted coverage, for example out in the country or in a coverage blackspot. But it’s also good if you want to get a more competitive deal from a smaller provider without sacrificing coverage or signal. You may think you have only one operator available, one of the big four. However, there may well be the opportunity to try a piggybacking operator. These companies may offer a better deal so it’s worth doing a little research to find out. Compare the market with us today and see how much you could save!