flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

O2 Coverage and Network Review

18th June 2020

O2 Network Coverage

O2 has now had a 4G network for years and it’s been busy in that time, bringing speedy 4G coverage to around 99% of the UK population indoors, and that figure is growing all the time, while 5G coverage is rapidly increasing too.

As work continues, we’ll continually update this page with the latest information, including how much 4G and 5G coverage O2 has, what spectrum it’s using and what kinds of plans and extras it offers.

We also address the pros and cons of the network, so you can get a clear picture of whether it’s the right mobile network for you.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Free access to 16,000 WiFi hotspots across UK

Possibly less 4G coverage than some

O2 Priority

Lower 4G speeds than main rivals

Our Rating

Coverage

O2 Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

O2 coverage checker

O2 coverage is excellent when it comes to 3G and 2G with widespread coverage indoors and out. O2's 4G coverage is also now strong, standing at over 99% indoors.

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

4G Network Coverage Comparison

Network

4G coverage by population

EE

>99%

Vodafone

99%

O2

99%

Three

99.8%

As you can see in the table above, O2’s 4G coverage currently rivals Vodafone's but is seemingly slightly behind EE's and Three’s, based on the latest available information at the time of writing. The difference is small though – we’re talking a percent at most, so you can be confident that across the UK as a whole you’ll get competitive coverage on O2, though it’s always worth checking what coverage is like in your area before signing up to a network.

4G from O2 is now available in thousands of 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.

Basically though, if you live in a remotely urban area then you’ll more likely than not be able to get O2 4G, and many rural areas will have access too.

5G coverage

O2 launched its 5G service on October 17th, 2019. It initially launched in six cities but its 5G service is now available in many more locations. At the time of writing you can get O2 5G in the following places:

Aberdeen, Ashford, Banstead, Basildon, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Chatham, Chesterfield, Coventry, Dartford, Derby, Dundee, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Esher, Gateshead, Gillingham, Glasgow, Grays, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Lowestoft, Luton, Manchester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Rainham, Redhill, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, South Shields, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunbury, Sunderland, Thundersley, Warrington, Weybridge, Windsor, Worthing, and York.

As for where O2 5G will be rolling out to next, the chart below has those details, as well as highlighting the key places it’s available in now.

O2 5G Coverage Rollout

Major locations with 5G

5G from later in 2020

Aberdeen

Birkenhead

Belfast

Blackpool

Birmingham

Bournemouth

Bradford

Cambridge

Brighton

Eton

Bristol

Guildford

Cardiff

Hove

Coventry

Milton Keynes

Derby

Newbury

Edinburgh

Portsmouth

Glasgow

Reading

Hull

Southampton

Leeds

Wolverhampton

Leicester

 

Lisburn

 

Liverpool

 

London

 

Manchester

 

Newcastle

 

Norwich

 

Nottingham

 

Sheffield

 

Slough

 

Stoke

 

 

 

If you don’t have O2 5G where you are yet, it should be worth waiting for, as it is far faster than 4G, so you can download and upload files faster and stream in higher quality. More excitingly, 5G could open up whole new use cases, such as truly smart cities and things we haven’t even envisaged yet.

To take advantage of its power though you’ll need a 5G phone. A number of these are starting to land, and O2 stocks many of them, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, April 2020

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

35.9/10.2Mbps

36.0ms

Three

22.4/8.2Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

25.4/9.1Mbps

39.0ms

O2

18.0/6.4Mbps

38.1ms

O2 uses standard 4G, which is around 5 times faster than a typical 3G network. The network’s average 4G download speed is 18.0Mbps according to OpenSignal, while its average 4G upload speed is 6.4Mbps, and its average latency (the time in which it takes for the network to respond to a request) is 38.1ms.

Those results aren’t great – as you can see in the table above O2 comes out slower than any major rival, with EE in particular storming ahead at around twice the speed, though its latency is better than Three or Vodafone.

O2 Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

900MHz

Band 8

2G & 3G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2300MHz

Band 40 4G

3400MHz

Band 42 5G

O2 uses both the 800MHz band and 2300MHz band for 4G. 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. The 2300MHz band on the other hand is more suited to busy areas, but it's shorter range and not as good at passing through obstacles. O2 also uses the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands, which sit in between.

O2 also has some 3400MHz spectrum, which is higher frequency and shorter range than even the 2300MHz band. This will be used for 5G.

You can find in depth details of these bands and others in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

O2 is always working on network improvements, be that bringing 4G to new places or upgrading sites that already have it.

Currently though its focus seems mostly on expanding its 5G coverage, with numerous additional locations in line to get the speedy technology soon.

We'll update this section as soon as we hear anything else new.

Traffic management

O2’s traffic management policy allows you to use your full data allowance without any restriction in the UK, even during peak hours, and once you’ve run out your data service will cease until you purchase more or reach your next month of allowances.

However, the network adds that it will always prioritize emergency voice traffic (which shouldn’t noticeably affect you and is a good thing if you ever need to call emergency services).

O2 will also warn users whose use is excessive enough that it detrimentally affects other customers, and if these excessive users don’t change their usage they risk being disconnected.

When roaming, data speeds may be slower than at home.

Plans

SIM Only Deals
O2

18 Month Contract

5 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£10.00 a month

View Deal

O2

12 Month Contract

2 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£12.00 a month

View Deal

O2

12 Month Contract

5 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£15.00 a month

View Deal

O2

18 Month Contract

20 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£15.00 a month

View Deal

O2

12 Month Contract

10 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£17.00 a month

View Deal

View All O2 Sim Only Deals

O2 Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

Max Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

150GB

Contract lengths

3-36 months

1, 12 or 18 months

1 or 12 months

Tethering

VoLTE

-

WiFi Calling

-

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

 

View deals

View deals

View deals

O2 has a range of Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go plans available. 5G is also available at no extra cost.

O2’s Pay Monthly plans are flexible, as while they default to 36 months in duration you can also edit them, choosing anything from as little as 3 months, with prices changing accordingly. You can also adjust how much you’re prepared to pay upfront and how much data you want (up to a maximum of unlimited data). They also allow tethering, and you can use as much of your data allowance for that as you want.

O2’s SIM Only plans come in at 18 months, 12 months or just 1 month long. They also come with a lot of data, topping out at unlimited. As with Pay Monthly, they also allow tethering, and you can use as much of your data allowance for that as you want.

Both phones and SIM plans also include VoLTE and WiFi Calling, which we’ll dig into further down in this article.

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 150GB of data.

Pay Monthly Plan Benefits

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

EU Roaming

Free O2 WiFi

O2 Priority

All Pay Monthly and SIM Only 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. Plus, you can roam across the EU at no extra cost – and in some cases even further afield. We’ve got more details on roaming below.

Some plans also chuck in additional freebies. At the time of writing for example, you can get a six-month subscription to Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music Unlimited, Audible, Disney Plus or Calm with some plans.

Tethering

O2 offers tethering as standard on all of its plans, allowing you to use any or all of your data allowance towards it – though the network doesn’t recommend this use and warns that this can use up your data quickly.

Fortunately, O2 also has plans with high data allowances, currently topping out at unlimited, so you can have a lot of data to play with.

WiFi Calling

WiFi Calling means making calls over Wi-Fi with your normal number and calling apps – so you can stay in touch as normal when there’s no signal, as long as you’re connected to Wi-Fi.

O2 offers this at no extra cost on Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans, but only currently for select handsets, including but not limited to:

iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone 8 Plus, 8, 7 Plus, 7, 6S Plus, 6S, 6 Plus, 6, SE, Samsung Galaxy S20 range, S10 5G, Note 10, Note 10 Plus 5G, S10, S10e, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, Note 8, S7, S7 Edge, J3 2017, A10, A20e, A50, A70, A8, A3 2017, A6, J6, J5 (2017), A5 (2017), Note 9, A7, J6+, J4+, A9, A90 5G, A40, Xcover 4S, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xperia XZ3, XZ2 Compact, XZ Premium, Xperia XA2, Xperia XZ1, Xperia XZ1 Compact, Xperia 10, Xperia L3, Xperia 5, Xperia 1, OnePlus 5, 5T, 6, 6T, OPPO Reno 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, P20 and P20 Pro. Head here for a full, up to date list.

In the case of some Android devices, your phone also needs to be running O2 firmware for WiFi Calling to work.

VoLTE

VoLTE is also known as Voice Over LTE or 4G Calling, and it means you can call and text using 4G, rather than your phone having to switch to a 2G or 3G signal. This in turn means you can call and text in places that only have a 4G signal, and can potentially get superior call quality.

VoLTE works on the same selection of handsets as WiFi Calling, including but not limited to the following:

iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone 8 Plus, 8, 7 Plus, 7, 6S Plus, 6S, 6 Plus, 6, SE, Samsung Galaxy S20 range, S10 5G, Note 10, Note 10 Plus 5G, S10, S10e, S10 Plus, S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8 Plus, Note 8, S7, S7 Edge, J3 2017, A10, A20e, A50, A70, A8, A3 2017, A6, J6, J5 (2017), A5 (2017), Note 9, A7, J6+, J4+, A9, A90 5G, A40, Xcover 4S, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xperia XZ3, XZ2 Compact, XZ Premium, Xperia XA2, Xperia XZ1, Xperia XZ1 Compact, Xperia 10, Xperia L3, Xperia 5, Xperia 1, OnePlus 5, 5T, 6, 6T, OPPO Reno 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, P20 and P20 Pro. Head here for a full list.

As with WiFi Calling, you also need to be running O2 firmware if using certain Android devices.

Pay As You Go

O2 Pay As You Go Plans

 

Mobile Phones

Data Only

Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance

20GB

20GB

Add-on expiry 

30 days Up to 12 months

Data Rollover

1 month x

Top Up Expiry

6 months inactivity 6 months inactivity

Tethering

EU Roaming

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. They’re available in both phone and data-only forms and top out at 20GB of data, and in the case of phone SIMs they let you roll over up to 1 month of data, giving you extra time to use it. They also come with tethering and EU roaming as standard. They automatically renew and the phone bundles are listed in the table below.

Pay As You Go Bundles

Bundle

Allowances

Cost

3GB Big Bundle

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

3GB data

£10

6GB Big Bundle

 

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

6GB data

£15

10GB Big Bundle

 

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

10GB data

£20

20GB Big Bundle

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

20GB data

£30

Shop O2 Pay As You Go

In addition to the listed bundles, there are a few others which give you fewer minutes/texts and/or less data at the same prices, but allow you to use your minutes internationally.

Alternatively, you can top up a minimum of £10 and just pay for the minutes, texts and data you use, at a rate of 3p per minute, 2p per text and 1p per megabyte of data.

Roaming Destinations

You can roam at no extra cost in the following 48 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, Mayotte, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion Islands, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Vatican City.

Select new plans also let you roam for free in the following 27 destinations: Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greenland, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yemen, with 120 minutes, 120 texts and unlimited data.

But 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: Albania, Anguilla, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Columbia, Cost Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turks & Caicos islands, UAE, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, Yemen and Zambia.

Customer Service

Customer service can be hard to judge, but in a 2018 Ofcom service quality report, O2 was found to have a 92% satisfaction rate from customers, with 6% finding reason to complain, 54% being happy with the way their complaint was handled, and 11 out of every 100,000 subscribers making a complaint to Ofcom. Those numbers are mostly reasonable, but that 6% figure is higher than rivals.

Conclusion

O2 combines a sturdy 4G network with high data limits and special offers through O2 Priority. Roaming on O2 is also affordable and there are a range of flexible 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 not far off and coverage is improving all the time – so you can be confident that there’ll be 4G from O2 almost everywhere before long, with 5G availability rising too.

Mobile Networks

Sim Deals

SIM Card Triple SIM
10 GB Data UNLIMITED Minutes UNLIMITED Texts £8.00 a month View Deal
SIM Card Triple SIM
9 GB Data UNLIMITED Minutes UNLIMITED Texts £8.00 a month
Max speeds 10mbps
View Deal
View More
Sign up for our newsletter.