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:
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.
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:
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.
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