There is a great choice of mobile phone networks in the UK: these include Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere (the Orange and T-Mobile merger), and Three - along with Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) such as TalkTalk, Tesco Mobile and Virgin, who use one of the main networks for their signal.
These networks have seen many changes as the technology advanced from its beginnings. The initial services were simply voice calls from a coverage area that began in just the main cities and later extended out, with most networks today boasting a 99% coverage of the UK. Text messaging, also know as the "short message service" or SMS, soon followed. Whilst this was initially only compatible between mobile phones on the same network, the service soon expanded to cross-network messaging and this is arguably one of the most popular technologies to ever be created for the mobile phone networks.
The next advancement that the networks provided was a limited mobile phone internet service that was run on a technology called WAP, which was a similar type of technology to dial-up internet access in the home but with pages created just for mobile phones. GPRS followed and speeded up this slow service by splitting data into small packets to boost performance.
WAP and GPRS services were accessible to everyone with a compatible phone but future developments seemed to see history repeat itself in many ways. The launch of 3G full internet access was a completely new advancement that took networks back to no-coverage for this service as different mobile phone towers and technology were needed. To roll out the service to the largest population centres the new coverage was focused on main cities followed by towns and villages, whilst the Three network was created to take full advantage of 3G.
UK Signal Coverage
The 3G-network service is still used today and provides access to internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, video calling and the option to download new apps to smartphones through Apple, Microsoft and Android’s market places. The next major technology release was the 4G-service that promised download speeds on launch of up to 150Mbps and has since been developed into speeds of up to 1Gbps. This service again required new phones for the consumer whilst the networks were challenged by rolling out another UK wide coverage plan.
It is fair to say that each network has had its ups and downs, successes and failures. Today, you can buy most phones on any network of your choice, with the networks also offering self-branded phones that have been tailored to their own unique selling points. Pay as you go phones offer a commitment free service whilst contract phones offer a reward of free minutes, texts and data usage each month in return for your commitment - which may be 12, 18 or 24 months.
With over a million different deals in the marketplace, our service has never been more valuable. You can compare those deals here in one convenient place and purchase your next phone on the network of your choice.
Mobile Networks with 4G Coverage
It's important to ensure you have signal if you are looking for superfast mobile internet on a 4G plan, without this then your network will go down to 3G or whatever is available in that area. All major networks now have 4G and coverage is growing, check out our dedicated 4G mobile information page.