Mobile Phone in London


Statistics has it that the UK has a mobile phone penetration rate of over 90%. Therefore, almost everyone has a mobile phone. The UK operates a 4G wireless technology which is the same as mainland Europe and many other countries.

When arriving to the UK, one of the most important things to do is to get yourself a phone SIM card.

The most important network providers in the UK are:

  • Vodafone
  • O2: O2 is the UK's biggest mobile phone operator with around 36.6 million customers across its networks
  • Three
  • EE (former T-Mobile)
  • GiffGaff: It is a mobile telephone network running as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) a joint venture 50% owned by Liberty Global trading as Virgin Media, and 50% owned by Telefónica UK trading as O2 UK under the newly formed company Virgin Media O2.

Note that some supermarkets, post offices, private broadcasters and telecommunications companies, etc... also sell network plans for your phone. They are usually merged with main network providers. For example: Tesco Mobile with O2 or BT Mobile with EE, etc.


To get a mobile contract you will need a Passport or ID card. To obtain a phone through contract is fairly easy in the UK as there are no credit checks or need to provide proof of income.

Many people prefer to start with a prepaid phone on arrival and then convert to a contract when they have sorted out the paperwork. Be sure to read all the other conditions.

Different companies offer different prices and contract terms. A contract should detail the terms and offer lower calling rates than prepaid cards.

A contract can be easily terminated or changed on a monthly basis. An exception are contracts that come with a phone, in which case a contract cannot be terminated earlier than within at least 6 months/1 year, depending on the service provider terms and conditions.

There are some basic points you need to consider for choosing the right deal.

  • Personal Use: Evaluate how much you use the phone, when, where you are calling, how often you use short message services (SMS), if you use the phone abroad, etc.
  • Coverage: Most important if you live in a remote place or regularly using the mobile while travelling in the countryside as most companies offer decent coverage.
  • Fees & Rates: Each operator offers several different plans and options. Investigate the plans carefully and evaluate your needs.

Pay As You Go

Prepaid phones offer maximum flexibility. Users pay in advance for credits which are used to make calls. When you need credit you can buy "top-up" cards from news agents, petrol stations and online (as well as directly from the mobile retailer).

Prepaid plans can be as confusing as contracts. Take into consideration these points when picking a card:

  • Cost of the purchase of the SIM card itself, which sometimes includes a block of minutes of communication
  • Cost of recharging the card
  • Connection fees; some operators do not apply connection fees
  • Time of the validity to make and to receive calls

Mobile phone roaming

The UK has now left the EU. This means that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to EU and EEA countries is no longer guaranteed. This includes employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business.

A number of mobile operators have stated that they have no current plans to change their mobile roaming policies, however this could change in future. You should check your mobile operator's roaming policies before travelling abroad. The government has legislated to protect consumers from unexpected charges. This ensures that obligations on mobile operators to apply a financial limit on mobile data usage while abroad is retained in UK law. The limit has been set at £45 per monthly billing period (currently €50 under EU law). This means you cannot continue to use mobile data services unless you actively chose to continue spending. The government has also legislated to continue to ensure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80% and 100% data usage.

Most companies have released offers for those traveling abroad. For example, EE customers can use their minutes, texts and data in EE's European roaming zone for £2 a day or for £10 a month with a Roam Abroad add on. On the other hand, O2 were the first network to bring back charges, with customers travelling to the EU being charged £3.50 for every GB of data they use once they go past a 25GB limit. Vodafone has also added a £1 per day fee when purchasing a multi-day pass for eight or 15 days.

By August 2021, no additional roaming charges have been brought into place for Three customers, as well as for Virgin Media, GiffGaff and Sky Mobile clients.

Update 15/09/2021


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In your article you are saying that there is no credit check required to get a mobile contract. This is NOT TRUE. I have just been turned down by Vodafone because of a credit check...Apparently this was due to the fact that I do not have enough credit history in the UK...So I have to wait for 6 months they said....



UK Telecom company watchdogs
If you have any complaint about telecoms companies, you can contact WACT (Email:, Website: These committees give advice to OFTEL, the government body which regulates telecommunications in the UK.
If the problem cannot be resolved,you can contact OFTEL on 0845 714 5000 (local rate), or by fax on 020 7634 8843,or by text on 020 7634 5370,or by :



Vodafone excludes the 0845 and 0870 numbers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Vodafone has written to customers about what it described as a "small change for calls to special numbers" saying that from June 1 2002, numbers beginning with 0800, 0500, 0808, 0845 or 0870 will no longer be included within the monthly allowance of inclusive minutes.
No surprise that the mobile operator's decision has upset a number of users. As a direct consequence, the use of pre-paid card or special numbers to call abroad will not be included into the monthly free minutes package!!!!
Therefore a lot of customers are changing for other companies like Orange.
You can write to Vodafone and contact Oftel - (who have advised that "Vodafone have stated that Vodafone will consider contract termination without claiming from the customer the balance of the payments for the minimum term").

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