Choosing a mobile provider

30 April 2019

There are lots of things to consider when choosing which mobile provider to use.

We have gathered together some useful information on the main questions that you might have about providers. What matters to you?

Overall satisfaction with provider

Overall satisfaction with EE is 93%. Giffgaff = 95%. O2 = 93%. Tesco Mobile = 97%. Three = 89%. Virgin Mobile = 93%. Vodafone = 90%.

Note: For definitions and methodology see the comparing service quality 2020 report (PDF, 3.2 MB) and methodology annex (PDF, 120.9 KB).

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Will I get a signal?

Signal strengths varies from place to place and provider to provider, and is affected by things like distance from the mast and whether there are any buildings or geography in the way. To check what signal you’re likely to receive in the places you live and work, you can look at Ofcom’s mobile coverage checker.

How much will it cost?

The price of a mobile service can vary according to provider, how much data or how many text/minutes you need, any extra features, the length of the contract, and whether you are buying a handset too. It’s important to think about the monthly cost as well as any upfront charges.

One way to decide if the price is right for you is to use a price comparison website. Ofcom accredits price comparison services that are transparent, accessible, accurate, comprehensive and up to date, and all our members must list their deals from cheapest to most expensive (across the whole contract). See a list of accredited websites.

Would other customers recommend them?

There’s nothing quite like knowing what existing customers think of a provider. We asked customers whether they would be likely to recommend their current provider*, and here are the results:

In 2020, customers were more likely to recommend giffgaff and Tesco Mobile.

*Net Promoter ScoreTM - see methodology annex details (PDF, 112.8 KB)

How many customers complain?

If you know that current customers don’t have much of a reason to complain, you might be more confident about taking a new service with a new provider. We looked at how many people complained directly to Ofcom about providers in 2018:

Virgin Mobile received the most complaints (27) per 100,000 customers in 2019. Tesco Mobile received the fewest (3). Vodafone = 26. BT = 21. iD mobile = 10. Three = 15. O2 = 9. EE = 7.

How quickly can I speak to someone if I have a problem, and how well will they handle my complaint?

If something does go wrong, it might be important to you to talk to someone as quickly as possible and for this to be an easy process. We asked providers to tell us how quickly their customers can talk to an agent and how many people got through:

The average call waiting time is 01:18. BT = 00:34. EE = 00:57. O2 = 00:43. Tesco Mobile = 00:35. Three = 02:37. Virgin Mobile = 01:35. Vodafone = 01:12.

From 15 February 2020, broadband, phone and pay-TV customers must be told about their provider’s best deals when their initial contract is coming to an end, and every year after that if they remain out of contract.

For more information on these notifications, see our latest update.

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