Mobile broadband coverage varies widely from town to town and street to street. In case you didn’t know, mobile broadband uses 3G mobile networks to provide high speed internet over the mobile network, so you need to check you can get good 3G coverage. It’s very important to check the mobile broadband coverage in your area before you buy to make sure you don’t get stuck in an 18 or 24 month contract paying £15 a month for a service you can’t use.
How do I check mobile broadband coverage in my area?
Each mobile operator has a mobile coverage checker on their website to help you check the coverage by postcode and by place name. To check the mobile broadband coverage for either Vodafone, T-Mobile, 3, Orange, or O2 in your area just click on the green buttons below and follow the instructions:
5 Tips about mobile broadband coverage
- When checking mobile broadband coverage remember to check the 3G coverage all of the areas where you plan to use it, not just your home address. If you plan on using mobile broadband at your parents house, your favourite coffee shop or your workplace then make sure they have great coverage.
- If you have a 3G mobile phone why not use it to check 3G coverage for your current network yourself? Most phones have a small 3G icon that appears when you have 3G coverage. This is the most accurate way to judge 3G, and therefore mobile broadband, coverage due to the factors highlighted below.
- Ask your neighbours and friends. If you know anyone who has mobile broadband or a 3G phone next door to where you live ask them which network they are on and whether their coverage is good. If you plan on using your connection in a favourite spot, such as a particular coffee shop, why not ask other people using mobile broadband about their coverage?
- Buy a Pay as you go mobile broadband package to test out the service and then sell it on eBay if it’s not good enough.
- For the time being mobile broadband coverage is likely to be patchy so it may be worth considering a deal that includes access to WiFi hotspots. O2 and T-Mobile include hotspot coverage in their deals. T-Mobile hotspots exist in all Starbucks coffee shops whilst O2 partner with BT Openzone and The Cloud which gives them the widest coverage in the UK, often in city centre locations.
Read our detailed mobile broadband coverage guides:
|3 Mobile Broadband Coverage||Orange Mobile Broadband Coverage||T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Coverage|
|Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage||O2 Mobile Broadband Coverage||Virgin Mobile Mobile Broadband Coverage|
What are the factors that affect mobile broadband coverage?
Mobile broadband coverage is affected by many different factors that are worth considering when assessing whether mobile broadband is right for you.
- The mobile broadband provider and their coverage in your area
- The thickness of walls in the building you are in
- Your distance from the nearest mobile phone mast
- The height of the buildings or hills between you and the mast
Aside from the obvious issue that 3G coverage is still not as good as normal mobile phone coverage, the biggest factor to be aware of is the fact that 3G signals are not very good at passing through walls. If you plan on using mobile broadband deep inside a particular building you may find performance disappointing. You could be in an area with the fastest HSDPA coverage available but still have limited or no service depending on your exact location. Bricks and steel are not the friend of mobile phone signals. Mobile broadband coverage and the speed you receive can also depend on the type of USB modem you are using. For example, 3 offer speeds of up to 7.2Mb, but these you’ll need to use the E169 modem. It is worth considering the device you will be using when you choose your mobile broadband package.
Instructions for using the mobile phone coverage checkers The networks don’t make it easy for us! Here are some basic instructions for using the mobile phone networks coverage checkers:
- T-Mobile Coverage Checker – Click the green button above and then enter your postcode on the T-Mobile website. Click on the ‘Check coverage’ button. Click on the grey ‘3G Video & High Speed Internet’ tab (just beneath where it says ‘Your 2G coverage results’) to see 3G mobile broadband coverage in your area. Check T-Mobile’s mobile phone coverage
- Vodafone Coverage Checker - Click on the green button above and to enter your postcode, place name or grid reference by using the drop down menu. Enter your postcode, city or town. The page reloads & an extra menu appears which asks you to ‘Please select’. Choose the place you want from the list Vodafone gives you. A mobile phone coverage map appears with red used to show different levels of 3G coverage and blue if there is only 2G coverage available (a blue map in your area is obviously a bad thing!). Check Vodafone’s mobile phone coverage
- Orange Coverage Checker - Click the green button above. Enter your postcode in the box, click the ‘Go’ button. There are no maps, just a basic image to explain the 2G and 3G mobile broadband coverage for the postcode you entered. Check Oranges’s mobile phone coverage
- O2 Coverage Checker - Click the green button above. Select current or HSDPA (fast 3G) mobile broadband coverage. Select to search by either postcode or town. Enter the postcode or town name in the text box then click on the ‘Search’ link and the coverage map then appears. The darker the blue the better and faster mobile broadband coverage. Check O2’s mobile phone coverage
- 3 Coverage Checker - Click the green button above. Enter a postcode or town and click on submit. A new window opens. A Google map of the area you entered appears. It’s yellow if you there is only 2G, orange for 3G mobile broadband coverage and purpley blue for HSDPA (fast 3G). The best mobile phone coverage checker of all! Check 3’s mobile phone coverage