Mobile phones

Mobile operators and networks

Mobile phones

The UK has a high mobile phone penetration rate, meaning that they are now an unavoidable part of day-to-day life. There are five main providers in Britain:

There are also a variety of ‘virtual’ providers which buy airtime from the main providers and then operate their own services. These include Virgin ( ) and One.Tel ( ).

Britain operates on a GSM network, so if you're coming from Europe and many other countries, your current mobile will probably work in the UK either as a roaming service or using a UK SIM card. If you are coming from North America or parts of Asia, you will probably have a CDMA phone which will not work. For a GSM phone, you need to check whether your phone is unlocked as some phones are network-specific (e.g. some Orange handsets). If your phone isn't locked, you just need a new SIM card.

Prices on new phones differ greatly depending on the retailer and the mobile operator. While each operator has its own outlets, prices tend to be better elsewhere. Large retailers like Carphone Warehouse ( ) often offer the best deals.

Further reading

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Other comments

  • IsabelleUK, 03 August 2012 Reply

    Vectone Mobile

    Among the MVNO that you quote you have Vectone Mobile, Lebara, LycaMobile... Those are the main ones in the UK.
    Good to underlie that Vectone Mobile is the MVNO that offers the best tariffs on PAYG and Pay monthly. They also provide a good network coverage all over UK.