Everyone knows the main four mobile networks here in the UK are EE, Vodafone, O2 and Three, but what of the others we hear about, the TalkTalks and giffgaffs of the market? Where do they come from and who runs them? It may surprise you to find out and it may well influence which you choose to be responsible for your mobile signal. And that’s why we have compiled a list of them for you in this article.
First of all, let’s look at the Big Four – do you really know who’s behind them and where they came from?
According to Which?, the UK’s biggest mobile network is EE. If you were at any point with T-Mobile or Orange, the merger of those networks created EE, and now the whole organisation, with its 500+ retail stores and 32 million customers, is owned by British Telecom. O2, formed over 30 years ago as Cellnet, today has around 24 million customers and is owned by Telefonica, a Spanish telecoms company. Vodafone is a British company and has just over 17 million customers, while Three, with almost 10 million customers, is owned by Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings.
However, there are a whole host of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). These are mobile providers that have been formed in partnership with the Big Four. These MVNOs do not have their own networks but instead use the infrastructure of the existing four networks and simply resell their signal while providing their own customer service.
So, if you’re with Asda Mobile, BT Mobile, Plusnet, Virgin or Utility Warehouse, you are in fact using the EE network.
And, if you’re with giffgaff, Sky Mobile or Tesco Mobile you are in fact with O2.
If you’re with Voxi you’re with Vodafone, and ID Mobile is in fact Three.
This is just a small list of the most popular virtual networks. There are many more of these MVNO companies out there, reselling access to the mobile networks of the Big Four.
So, why is this important to know? Well, should you have signal problems where you live or work with one provider and you choose to go with another, if they are using the same network, no matter what their websites say about coverage, you will still have exactly the same problem once you change.
The reality is that there are just four choices and if none of them are providing you with the strength of signal that will assure you a clear and reliable connection when you need to make or receive a call, then it’s time to consider a signal boosting solution.