Not really climbing related,,,, but
What is the phone network of choice these days? Im on Vodafone and fed up with the lack of coverage in a lot of climbing areas like N Wales. I know the hills block signals but some people I know on three and EE get a good signal.
What's the general consensus on here?
Vodafone claim to cover 90 something % of the POPULATION. And that's mainly in the SE and large cities.
I was thinking of getting an EE £5 sim and try it out in a few places, see if their claims of being the best network are true.
I bought PAYG sims from vodafone, EE, O2 and Three and tried them out in different places. My findings were: go for anyone but Three. It has been suggested to me that this is because Three doesn't have a 2G network but I'm not sufficiently well informed to know if that is BS or not.
Thanks. Yodaphone is particularly crap in most places outside major cities. I'll try an EE PAYG for a start. Se ifb what they say is true
O2 seems to be poor at the moment, particularly for data. NW England at least.
I understand this is due to changeover of equipment to remove Chinese stuff from the masts and backbone and delays to replacement stuff from Ericsson. Also a load of extra users from the virgin broadband deals and those giveaway food bank data sims.
ive moved some of our business to Three, but not sure about use on the hills
You can see the (theoretical) network coverage on the ofcom website e.g., https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/en-gb/mobile-coverage#pc=M32QS&uprn=100230...
Vodafone, O2 and EE look similar, but THREE is definitely worse.
I'm on EE and get coverage in quite a few places climbing partners don't on other networks. It's not perfect but seems better then others.
> I'm on EE and get coverage in quite a few places climbing partners don't on other networks. It's not perfect but seems better then others.
Can't comment on coverage for N. Wales but in Scotland Three seems to be pretty poor. I was standing next to a phone mast near Arrochar in April and couldn't get any signal at all even though a sign on the fence said 'Hutchison' (who take my money every month). I don't think anyone I've encountered in the Highlands/Islands rates Three.
> I'll try an EE PAYG for a start.
This might be a better bet than EE's own PAYG offerings to try out their network:
EE provide the emergency services network and have put in extra coverage in remote/rural areas.
Also, anecdotally, it's very rare that I don't have a signal in the mountains on EE. Three are useless outside urban areas.
> I bought PAYG sims from vodafone, EE, O2 and Three and tried them out in different places. My findings were: go for anyone but Three. It has been suggested to me that this is because Three doesn't have a 2G network but I'm not sufficiently well informed to know if that is BS or not.
if i recall
2g was turned off for all networks 2 yrs ago, and 3g is on a countdown, no networks are building new 3g infrastructure and any development is in 4 and 5g
It may depend on network, but on O2 (and I believe others, but cannot guarantee) 2g is alive and well and will probably outlast 3g.
> This might be a better bet than EE's own PAYG offerings to try out their network:
I just switched to 1pmobile after discovering I had run out of credit on my Three '3-2-1' PAYG tariff, as they had increased the tariff by more than 1000% without telling me. Marketing spam sms and email, but none to tell me that...
Never had any problems with O2 - been on it for years.
Not been out in the hills much for a while, though, so not very up to date.
> if i recall
> 2g was turned off for all networks 2 yrs ago, and 3g is on a countdown, no networks are building new 3g infrastructure and any development is in 4 and 5g
No. This explains better. 2G won't go for a decade. Voice over 4G will continue to rise.
Just signed up to Plusnet for £8 per month as they use the EE network and allow you to use your package in most countries in Europe for no extra charge. The roaming charges are starting to go away again.
I've heard that 3 are worst.
As for the rest, it really does depend on where you are going to be. Where I live there is only EE so my personal experience would be EE is better than vodaphone or O2 but I really do think it depends on where, specifically you are.
If you have specific crags and hills you spend most of your time at, then you don't want a UKC consensus on this, you want to know which network is best for specifically where you go.
I think there are websites that theoretically show you a pixelated UK with relative strength for each of the networks for every... square km?... or something. So you could maybe pour over one of those but you might be better off just asking other people on the hill/crag that you meet a) what network they are with and b) if they have signal at that moment.
Not quite the full network - https://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/off_belay/best_4g_in_rural_scotlandbritai...
My my, that's worth knowing. It was the no charge for using my phone abroad that pulled me in. I guess EE will have to keep something to themselves to give them an edge.
Not o2. It regularly seems to be worse than others (I think EE?) in various places - Langdale (I have none at all, others do), Gwern Gof Uchaf, over Snake Pass (others seem to have more than me, but not total), a village outside Leeds (again - I have none, others fine), my flat...! It's not so bad that I've bothered to change (esp as I think I still have EU roaming, and the nice rolling contract of Giffgaff), but given the not spots are all a way apart, I would go with EE next time, esp as it means I don't feel confident camping in two of my common campsites on my own. I didn't really have a problem down south much, though.
Best to do some research on coverage of areas online - I’m on o2 which has ok reception in quite a bit of remote NW Scotland, much of the cairngorms (out of the glens anyway) but rubbish reception in my town which is not far from a major city and not remote at all… so ‘it depends’ is probably the answer!
> Just signed up to Plusnet for £8 per month as they use the EE network and allow you to use your package in most countries in Europe for no extra charge. The roaming charges are starting to go away again.
I gave Plusnet Mobile a try a while back, because I was already a Plusnet broadband user. Despite them using a network which was supposedly "Everything Everywhere", I got zero signal in the central Edinburgh office that I worked in at the time, so that trial didn't last very long at all. In this respect, therefore, I agree with Henwardian: coverage maps are all very well, but the particular circumstances of a given location can render that meaningless. Which is no help at all if you discover that that includes the remote location where you unexpectedly discover that you need assistance.
OTOH, my understanding is if you're making a 999 call then the phone will use any network it can find - in fact I'm pretty sure that you can make a 999 call without a SIM in the phone at all. In terms of making contact with the emergency services, then, the "which network is best" question is probably moot. But not so handy if all you want to do is let a family member know that you're just unexpectedly delayed rather than actually in trouble, for example.
WRT roaming charges: I'm still on TalkMobile, which is Vodafone by another name, and they haven't had roaming charges in Europe all the time I've been with them. But here in the UK I have found that Vodafone coverage isn't the greatest in remote (or even not so remote) areas in Scotland. In particular, I often find that I have signal - so can make a voice call or text - but no internet connection to speak of.
I'm on BT, and get few problems in N Wales, apart from Ogwen valley when we needed it, and decent coverage in the Lakes - but not in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Nothing they were prepared to do to get a signal in the house. EE, on the other hand, would provide a Cisco signal box (femtocell) which plugged into the broadband router. Son had an EE contract at the time so that's what we did. Now EE have withdrawn that service because modern phones will call over broadband directly. BT and EE are the same company but they don't operate in the same way.
Used to have a job where I was on call a lot of the time. Therefore provided with works mobiles that were quite often on different networks. Therefore used O2, Three, Vodafone and EE.
Best seemed to be EE apart from in Patterdale where Vodafone seemed to rule.
I got my money back from Three due to poor reception. I think the company is called Three because of the number of places where reception is available.
> OTOH, my understanding is if you're making a 999 call then the phone will use any network it can find - in fact I'm pretty sure that you can make a 999 call without a SIM in the phone at all. In terms of making contact with the emergency services, then, the "which network is best" question is probably moot.
Yes this is correct.
Although given that individual MRT teams will probably want to contact you direct for more info, it's less than ideal if you can only speak through the 999 operator.
If you regularly go out with the same person, simply ensuring you are on different networks works well. As hopefully one phones black spot may be in an area where the other one still has signal.
> If you regularly go out with the same person, simply ensuring you are on different networks works well. As hopefully one phones black spot may be in an area where the other one still has signal.
I reckon this is decent advice depending on your personal circumstances. I've no real judgement on which network has best coverage overall but have definitely found different blackspots for different networks - my wife and I always have different networks and this seems to increase the chance of getting coverage in the hills.
Problem I discovered with Plusnet is that they use some of the EE network, but EE doesn’t let them use all of it. Plusnet is cheaper for a reason - you get what you pay for. I had to move back to EE and now have better coverage again.
Just get a cheap PAYG on another network to one on your main phone. You’ll then be covered for emergency calls in the hills. If no signal, well back to how things were pre mobile, no biggie.
I was on O2 for over a decade and switched over to EE a couple of years ago. Coverage is better and their data deals are *infinitely* better.
Literally, as O2 not only does not offer unlimited data, they charge through the arse for not so much data either.
Just in case anybody is interested, Giffgaff does not have a signal on the Comedy Carpet below Blackpool Tower.
PITA if you live in Blackpool.
To be fair to Three, there's been as many occassions that I can't get signal when others can, but also vice versa.
Not really tested my Plusnet coverage in remote UK but on Mount Olympus in Greece it was good all the way. No issues with it in the city of Sheffield so far so it might depend where you live. Good to know though.
> EE provide the emergency services network and have put in extra coverage in remote/rural areas.
EE will provide the Emergency Services Network, if it ever arrives. (Scheduled for 2019, looking more like 2026).
However they are significantly expanding their 4G network as part of the contract.
> It has been suggested to me that this is because Three doesn't have a 2G network but I'm not sufficiently well informed to know if that is BS or not.
It depends on what you are trying to use your phone for. If it's to make a voice call, Three's lack of 2G can have a big impact. If you're trying to do anything using the internet, it is irrelevant.
> Three seems to be pretty poor. I was standing next to a phone mast near Arrochar in April and couldn't get any signal at all even though a sign on the fence said 'Hutchison'
Standing right next to a phone mast is not a good way to get a signal because the antennas are very directional.
If you're stood right next to a phone mast, most of the signal from those antennas will be passing a few metres above your head. If you are stood right next to a mast and have a good signal, there's a good chance that you are actually connecting to a different mast, not the one you are stood next to.
> Just get a cheap PAYG on another network to one on your main phone.
If coverage in the hills is really important to someone, then owning either a second phone on a different network or a dual sim phone is definitely the answer.
If anyone is thinking of doing this, I would go for EE as one of your 2 networks, and either O2 or Vodafone for the other.
Most UK telecoms sites are shared between networks and are either Cornerstone (O2 & Vodafone) or MBNL (EE & Three). If you have 2 sims/devices that are both Cornerstone or both MBNL, they will share a lot of the same signal blackspots. So you would want one from each. Picking EE for one of them makes sense for most people as EE have the best overall coverage (noting that their are huge local variations).
Having said that, I have never been an EE customer because their packages have never been competitive for the amount of data that I use. I've been on Three for some time and more often than not, I get a better signal at Peak/Welsh crags than people on other networks. Raven Tor being one of the few counter-examples.
> Standing right next to a phone mast is not a good way to get a signal because the antennas are very directional.
The mast is shown on OS maps just by the usual route to the Cobbler. I was heading along the Cowal Way down to Arrochar and on up Glen Loin, still without signal.
I've gone for a Lebara SIM (uses Vodafone) for use in Italy over the winter. Monthly rolling contract, 100mins to EU etc numbers, 12GB data, and EU data roaming. Ordered through MSE it's £1.99 for first 6 months then £6 a month.
Lyca is similar through MSE and uses O2
They all have issues in the hills, I found Three better than most for my needs.