Mobile Broadband Coverage

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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:

 3 Mobile Broadband Coverage Three  99.5% 2G Coverage* 99% 3G Coverage* 3 Mobile Broadband Coverage
  Vodafone  99.7% 2G Coverage* 80%+ 3G Coverage* Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage
  T-Mobile  99% 2G Coverage*  93% 3G Coverage* T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Coverage
  Orange  99% 2G Coverage* 93% 3G Coverage* Orange Mobile Broadband Coverage
  O2  99.5% 2G Coverage* 80%+ 3G Coverage* Check your mobile broadband coverage at O2's website
   Virgin Mobile  99% 2G Coverage* 93% 3G Coverage* Check your mobile broadband coverage at O2's website

5 Tips about mobile broadband coverage

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

3 Mobile Broadband Coverage Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage Orange mobile broadband Coverage O2 Mobile Broadband Coverage T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Coverage

3 Mobile Broadband Coverage

Vodafone Mobile Broadband Coverage

Orange Mobile Broadband Coverage

Check your mobile broadband coverage at O2's website

T-Mobile Mobile Broadband Coverage

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
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Mobile Broadband Coverage, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

13 Responses to Mobile Broadband Coverage

  1. Johno says:

    I’ve had mobile broadband for a couple of weeks and the coverage varies a lot depending on where I am.

    Are there any ways to boost my coverage when I’m in an area with poor reception?

  2. The Mobile Broadband Expert says:

    Hi Johno

    Have you tried using the USB cable that should have come in the box? This can extend your mobile broadband coverage a little. Being nearer to a window or door (or being outside on a lovely sunny day!) should improve your coverage too.

    Anyone got any suggestions for improving coverage of your mobile broadband?

  3. Anon says:

    Hi we are going to Scotland on holiday, touring, starting at Isle of Skye following north coast to John o’Grotes then going to Inverness which mobile broadband has the best coverage?

  4. admin says:

    That’s a tough one. I would imagine mobile broadband coverage is pretty poor up there. Most mobile broadband operators have only 80% population coverage at best so I would guess the Isle of Skye and North Scotland has pretty much zero coverage.

    The only thing I can suggest is to check the postcode of the places you are staying to see if there is any coverage with one network or other. Perhaps get a mobile broadband tariff with WiFi hotspots included, like O2′s package that includes The Cloud and BT Openzone coverage as I imagine a few towns with have WiFi hotspots.

    I’d also recommend buying Pay as you go mobile broadband as you will only have to pay when you’re in coverage.

    I hope that at least helps a bit.

  5. Jo says:

    Hi, we are due to go on holiday to the South Lake District. Any ideas on the best mobile broadband to buy? Can’t seem to find any providers with coverage in that area. Help. Thanks

  6. The Mobile Broadband Expert says:

    Hi Jo

    I think the mobile broadband coverage in places like the South Lake District will be very patchy for a few years to come. I assume you’ve tried the coverage checkers for the town or village/s you are staying in? If there’s no coverage where you’re staying then buying mobile broadband is a bit of a gamble.

    As with the previous question I would recommend buying Pay as you go mobile broadband so you are not tied into a long term contract. You should also pick one with WiFi hotspot access included so that you can get free/cheap access in coffee shops or pubs. The modems cost as little as £15 and you pay as little as £2 per day so it’s not a huge cost these days. Worst case you can sell the modem on via eBay and recover some cash.

    The best options are compared in my Pay as you go mobile broadband section.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help on this occasion.

    Can anyone in the South Lake District area let us know if they get good mobile broadband coverage from any particular network?

  7. Mr Saunders says:

    There is one missing out so why can you put BT company there with all one so would be nice see all company in one webstie is more easy to access all in one not missing one out wht is BT check

  8. sam says:

    for south lake district use vadaphone

  9. sam says:

    *vodaphone

  10. Coleman says:

    I would like to know the best mobile for receiption in the Keswick area especially CA12 5UY area

  11. Deve says:

    I would like to know the best mobile receiption in ealing W5 4UP

  12. J says:

    Is it possible to get a roaming sim that will connect to any available network? So that internet connection is available almost everywhere in the uk?

  13. Becci says:

    Can any let me know what 3 mobiles coverage is like in the Biggar area (south lanarkshire Scotland)?