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O2 4G Coverage and Network Review

17th November 2017

O2 Network Coverage

O2 launched its 4G mobile network on 28th August, 2013 when its coverage was limited to London, Leeds and Bradford. It purchased the third largest amount of 4G frequency spectrum in the UK's 4G auction but only came away with one licence.

It now has over 97 percent outdoor population 4G coverage and it’s the only operator with a regulatory requirement to reach 98 percent indoor population coverage by the end of 2017.

Pros

Cons

Free access to 15,000 WiFi hotspots across UK

Less 4G coverage than EE

O2 Priority

No inclusive roaming beyond the EU

Our Rating

Coverage

O2 coverage is excellent when it comes to 3G and 2G with widespread coverage. O2's 4G coverage is also now strong, standing at over 97% outdoors (though notably indoor coverage is trickier and the network hasn't released an up to date figure for that).

Network Type Coverage by population
4G  97%
3G 98%
2G 99%

Use O2’s coverage checker below to find out more about O2 coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

O2 coverage checker

4G from O2 is now available in well over 15,000 UK towns, cities and villages. The major towns and cities include but are not limited to: Antrim, Bradford, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bridgend, Brighton, Burnley, Castleford, Coleraine, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Leigh, Liverpool, Livingston, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield, London, Macclesfield, Newtownabbey, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Pontypool, Poole, Portsmouth, Reading, St Albans, Sittingbourne, Southampton and Tamworth.

Recent locations to get an O2 4G upgrade include Porlock, plus Ben Nevis, among hundreds of other Scottish locations. Over 180 locations in Norfolk have also recently had a 4G upgrade.

Check O2 coverage using the coverage checker here.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

O2 uses standard 4G, which is around 5 times faster than a typical 3G network. The network’s average 4G download speed is 18.48Mbit/sec, while its average 4G upload speed is 9.40Mbit/sec. While that’s not as fast as some rivals – most notably EE – it’s still very speedy, and should allow for smooth streaming, downloading and web browsing on your phone.

  • Average Download Speed: 18.48 Mbit/sec
  • Average Upload Speed: 9.40 Mbit/sec

O2 uses just the 800MHz band for 4G, where some networks use two or three different bands. In that sense, it’s a bit limited, but it’s got a decent amount of spectrum and the 800MHz band is well suited to delivering coverage across the UK. It’s long range, so it can travel a long way between base stations, making it suited to rural environments.

But it’s also good at penetrating walls and other solid objects, making it a good fit for towns and cities too, and ensuring strong coverage both indoors and out. You can find in depth details of this band and others in our 4G frequencies guide.

  • 800MHz used for 4G
  • 900MHz used for 2G/3G
  • 1800MHz used for 2G
  • 2100 MHz used for 3G

Plans

O2 has a range of Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go plans available. Whatever you opt for you’ll get 4G as standard, without paying any extra. All plans also come with access to O2’s public Wi-Fi hotspots, and O2 Priority – so you can grab exclusive offers and early gig tickets.

Pay Monthly Phone Plans

Tethering

Yes

Max Data Allowance

50GB

Contract Length

24 Months

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O2’s Pay Monthly plans are all 24 months long, and come with up to a massive 50GB of monthly data. They also allow tethering, and you can use as much of your data allowance for that as you want. Certain plans allow for an early upgrade after 12 months, and some also come with a free screen replacement.

SIM Only Plans

Tethering

Yes

Max Data Allowance

30GB

Contract Length

1 or 12 Months
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O2’s SIM Only plans are shorter and more flexible, coming in at either 12 months or just 1 month long. They don’t have as much data at the top end as Pay Monthly plans though, topping out at 30GB. As with Pay Monthly, they also allow tethering, and you can use as much of your data allowance for that as you want.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

O2 also offers Data Only plans for tablets, MiFi devices and dongles. These are designed to give you data, without minutes or texts.

They are available on 1 or 12-month contracts with up to 20GB of data.

Pay As You Go

O2 has a number of Pay As You Go bundles available, giving you an allowance of minutes, texts and data that last for 30 days. These automatically renew and are listed in the table below.

Bundle

Minutes

Texts

Data

Cost

2GB Big Bundle

250

1000

2GB

£10

5GB Big Bundle

500

1000

5GB

£15

6GB Big Bundle

1000 2000 6GB £20

8GB Big Bundle

2000 2000 8GB £25

20GB Big Bundle

3000 3000 20GB £30

Alternatively, you can top up a minimum of £10 and just pay for the minutes, texts and data you use, at a rate of 5p per minute, 5p per text and 5p per megabyte of data.

O2 Roaming Destinations

You can roam at no extra cost in the following 47 locations:

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Vatican City.

Speeds are limited to 3G though, and to roam further afield you'll have to pay at least £4.99 per day, with that money getting you 120 minutes, 120 texts and unlimited data in: Turkey, Albania, Chile, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Colombia, Mexico, Thailand, Botswana, El Salvador, New Zealand, UAE, Brazil, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Canada, Honduras, Panama, USA, Cape Verde, Hong Kong, Peru and Venezuela. 

Conclusion

O2 combines a sturdy 4G network with high data limits and special offers through O2 Priority. Roaming on O2 is also affordable – though not inclusive outside the EU – and there are a range of tariffs to choose from whether you Pay Monthly, go SIM Only or Pay As You Go.

Coverage isn’t quite the best, but it’s improving all the time and reassuringly the network has a regulatory requirement to reach 98% indoor population coverage by the end of 2017 – so you can be confident that there’ll be 4G from O2 almost everywhere before long.

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