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BT Mobile Review and Network Coverage

25th March 2022

BT Mobile Review

BT Mobile has a lot going for it, including higher speeds than most networks and slightly better coverage.

Both of those points are largely down to the fact that it uses EE's network (which it also owns), as that network is bigger and faster than its main rivals. And – like EE - BT Mobile also offers 5G, which some UK networks don’t yet at the time of writing.

But there are also reasons you might want to choose BT over EE. For example, it offers discounts to BT Broadband customers. That said, it doesn’t do everything perfectly.

With that in mind, we’ve crafted this review of BT Mobile, highlighting the areas where it excels and those where there’s room for improvement.

Summary

Pros

Cons

High speeds

No Pay As You Go plans

Discounts for broadband customers

No inclusive roaming beyond Europe

Good coverage

No unlimited data unless you have Halo

Our Rating

Table of Contents

Coverage

Which network does BT Mobile use?

BT Mobile uses EE’s network, meaning they share infrastructure and coverage for 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G. This is no surprise since BT actually owns EE. You’ll find full details of what this means for BT Mobile’s coverage below.

BT Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in 168 locations

4G 

>99%

3G

98%

2G

99%


5G coverage

BT Mobile launched its 5G service on October 11th, 2019, making it the first UK MVNO to do so. In fact, that even put its 5G mobile launch ahead of O2 or Three (the latter of which already offered 5G at the time, but only for home broadband).

It's available in the same places as EE, which means at least 168 towns and cities in total at the time of writing. These include (but are not limited to) the following places:

Aberdeen, Aldershot, Aldridge, Alexandria, Altrincham, Ashford, Ashton Under Lyme, Aylesbury, Ayr, Barnsley, Barrhead, Bath, Belfast, Belshill, Biggleswade, Blackburn, Blackpool, Bolton, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Borehamwood, Bransholm, Brentford, Brighton, Bristol,  Burton-upon-Trent, Bury, Cannock, Cardiff, Castleford, Castlereagh, Chatham, Chelmsford, Cheshunt, Chester, Chesterfield, Chester le Street, Chorley, Clevedon, Clifton, Clydebank, Colchester, Coventry, Crawley, Cumbernauld, Dartford, Dinnington, Doncaster, Dudley, Dundee, Edinburgh, Epsom, Exeter, Gillingham, Glasgow, Grantham, Gravesend, Grays ,Grimsby, Guildford, Halifax, Hamilton, Harlow, Harrogate, Hoddesdon, Huddersfield, Hull, Ilkeston, Inchinnan, Ipswich, Jarrow, Kimberley, Kingston, Leamington Spa, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Lisburn, Liverpool, Loughborough, Loughton, London, Maidstone, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milnrow, Milton Keynes, Minster, Mirfield, Motherwell, Neath, Newcastle, Newton-le-Willows, Northampton, North Shields, Norwich, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Oldham, Oxford, Paignton, Paisley, Plymouth, Pontefract, Poole, Porthcawl, Portishead, Portsmouth, Potters Bar, Rickmansworth, Rochdale, Rochester, Romford, Rotherham, Rugeley, Runcorn, Salford, Sheffield, Shipley, Solihull, Southend On Sea, Southport, South Shields, Stafford, Staines, St Albans, Stevenage, Stirling, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sunbury-on-Thames, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Swadlincote, Swansea, Swindon, Swinton, Sydenham, Tamworth, Wakefield, Waltham Abbey, Walsall, Waltham Cross, Walton-On-Thames, Warwick, Washington, Watford, West Bromwich, Weston-Super-Mare, Westhoughton, Weybridge, Wickford, Widnes, Wigan, Wolverhampton, Worcester, and York.

Note that 5G coverage isn't comprehensive in the places that currently have it. The focus is mostly on the busiest areas, but coverage will continue to improve.

4G coverage

BT Mobile uses the same core network as EE, giving it excellent coverage across the UK, with over 99% population coverage with 4G.

That likely puts it ahead of most rivals (other perhaps than Three), though all UK networks now have at least 99% population coverage with 4G, so the difference is negligible.

3G coverage

BT Mobile also has widespread 3G coverage, with around 98% of the UK population covered by this. As with 5G and 4G it uses EE’s infrastructure here. Between all these coverage types you should be able to get a BT Mobile signal almost everywhere.

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

Plans

BT Mobile offers a range of Pay Monthly phones and SIM Only plans, which are detailed below. BT Mobile also offers mobile broadband plans and data SIMs.

BT Mobile Plans
  Mobile Phones SIM Only Data only SIM
Plans available
Max Data Unlimited Unlimited 60GB
Contract lengths 24 months 12 or 24 months 12 months
Deals Compare deals Compare deals  

SIM Only Deals
BT

12 Month Contract

4 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£13.00 a month

View Deal

BT

24 Month Contract

5 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£13.00 a month

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BT

24 Month Contract

10 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£15.00 a month

View Deal

BT

12 Month Contract

8 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£15.00 a month

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BT

12 Month Contract

12 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£17.00 a month

View Deal

View All BT Sim Only Deals

Mobile’s Pay Monthly plans are all 24 months long and all allow you to use your data allowance towards tethering. You can get up to 100GB of monthly data with Pay Monthly plans, unless you’re a BT Halo customer, in which case you can get unlimited data.

BT’s SIM Only plans are either 12 or 24 months long and come with up to 100GB of monthly data (unless you’re a BT Halo customer, then it’s up to unlimited).

As with Pay Monthly, you can use any or all of that data for tethering. SIM Only plans also allow you to switch your allowance each month, so while you’re tied into a contract you don’t have to stick with the same allowances.

BT also offers Data Only plans. These come on 12-month contracts with up to 30GB of data (or 60GB with Halo).

BT Mobile Perks
  Mobile Phones SIM Only Data only SIM
5G
Roaming
Tethering
VoLTE
WiFi Calling
Data Rollover
Spending Caps
Unlimited Data
Family Plans
Credit Check
Free BT Sport on mobile ✔* ✔* ✔*

* on select plans only

Highlights of BT Mobile’s plans include free access to BT Sport on many plans, and discounts if you’re a BT Broadband customer. There are also extras, detailed below, however data limits (outside Halo) are middling given that many networks now offer unlimited data for all.

5G

BT Mobile offers 5G as standard on all current SIM-only plans, so you won’t pay any extra for it. That said, at the time of writing its handset and data-only plans are limited to 4G, making its 5G offering more restrictive than some networks.

Roaming Destinations

BT Mobile lets you use your full allowance of minutes and texts at no extra cost in 47 European destinations. You can also use your data, but above 15GB a surcharge may be applied. The applicable destinations are as follows:

Austria, 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, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal (Incl. Azores & Madeira), Reunion, Romania, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vatican City.

BT Mobile also offers a Travel Data Pass, which lets you use 500MB of data for £6 each day in Andorra, Australia, Canada, China, India, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and the US.

This used to make for a mediocre roaming offering, but with EE, Vodafone and Three all moving to charge for roaming, BT Mobile’s free roaming offering doesn’t look so bad.

Tethering

BT Mobile lets you use as much of your monthly data allowance as you want for tethering, so you can get tablets, laptops, and other devices online by sharing your phone’s network connection. The only limit is your data allowance.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE (sometimes called 4G Calling) and lets you make and receive calls over 4G, so you’ll be able to stay in touch in places that don’t have a 2G or 3G signal. BT Mobile offers this to all customers, but at the moment it only works on the iPhone 6 or later, or a number of Android phones bought from BT, including the Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus, Google Pixel 4, Oppo Reno 5G, and others.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling refers to the act of calling and texting over a Wi-Fi network, while using your normal number, dialler, and SMS app, so it’s completely seamless. BT Mobile offers this to all new and existing customers, but currently you need an iPhone 5S or later, or a select Android handset bought from BT.

Both this and VoLTE are somewhat premium features as a lot of networks don’t offer them, so they’re good extras.

Data rollover

Data rollover is offered by some networks but not by BT Mobile. If it was then any unused data would roll over from one month to the next, giving you a second chance to use it.

Spending caps

BT Mobile offers spending caps, which let you limit how much you can spend on things outside your plan (such as on premium numbers). The cap defaults to £40 but you’re free to adjust this. You can even set the cap to £0, so that it’s not possible to accidentally spend any extra.

There’s a separate cap for roaming charges and this defaults to £35, but this too can be adjusted.

Unlimited data

BT Mobile offers unlimited data on both SIM-only plans and Pay Monthly plans with a handset. However, it’s more limited on this front than a lot of networks, as you can only access these plans if you’re also a BT Halo customer.

Family plans

BT Mobile offers what it calls a Family SIM. This allows you to add additional SIMs to your account (for up to five total), with a 20% discount on every SIM after the first one.

The additional SIMs can also be added or removed whenever you want, so only the initial SIM is locked into a contract. However, these SIMs are only available on SIM-only plans, and each SIM must have the same data allowance.

Credit checks

BT Mobile states that it might credit check you when you place an order (and given that all of its main plans tie you into a contract, we’d expect it usually will).

As such, this isn’t a great choice for those with bad credit, or anyone who doesn’t want a check recorded on their credit file.

Unique perks

The main unique perk on BT Mobile is that some plans additionally come with access to the BT Sport app (valued at £10 per month). As you’d expect, this is mostly limited to the pricier plans with larger data limits.

The network also gives all customers access to its 5 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the UK.

Beyond that, you can also get discounts on plans if you’re a BT Broadband customer, and extra data if you’re a BT Halo customer, so the brand rewards loyalty.

Awards

BT Mobile was runner up in the Uswitch 2020 best network for data award. EE meanwhile (which BT owns) has won many awards, including fastest mobile network in the Uswitch 2021 awards, and best network in the Mobile Choice 2019 awards.

That said, BT Mobile itself hasn’t been as extensively awarded as some other networks.

Network

Network Speeds

On the 4G front, BT mostly uses standard 4G, which is roughly 5 times faster than a standard 3G network. However, it also has an Extra Speed service as an optional extra, which reaches speeds of up to 60Mbit/sec.

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2021, and April 2020

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

BT Mobile (EE network)

44/9.7Mbps

36.0ms

Three

25.2/6.3Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

21.6/7.4Mbps

39.0ms

O2

17.1/5.4Mbps

38.1ms

According to an Opensignal report from September 2021, EE’s average download speed is 44Mbps. BT’s speeds aren’t part of the report, but they’re likely to be similar to EE’s, meaning probably higher than any major rival. The same applies to EE’s average upload speed of 9.7Mbps. Those speeds use all available connectivity options, meaning a combination of 5G, 4G and 3G, much like you’d be getting in real world use.

EE’s average latency meanwhile (from an earlier April 2020 report) is 36.0ms. That’s the measure of how long the network takes to respond to a request, so a lower number is better here, and EE (and likely by extension BT) is once again in the lead.

As for BT's 5G speeds, the network has said to expect average speeds of around 150Mbps more than 4G, with peak speeds apparently able to reach 1Gbps.

In terms of actual data, we mostly have to go by EE again, but in September 2020, Point Topic found that EE’s average 5G download speed was 149.9Mbps, while its median download speed was 151Mbps according to a H1 2021 report from Ookla, so BT’s speeds might be similar.

Traffic management

BT Mobile doesn’t have any speed restrictions, no matter how much you upload or download, even at peak hours. BT Mobile also won’t slow down peer to peer file-sharing, so you’re free to use the network however and whenever you want without being slowed.

Network Frequencies

BT Mobile Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

700MHz

n29 5G

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2600MHz

Band 7

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

BT Mobile uses the 800MHz band, 1800MHz band, 2100MHz band and 2600MHz band for 4G. The 800MHz band is long range, making it a great fit for countryside locations, but it can also penetrate walls, for good indoor coverage.

The 2600MHz band on the other hand is shorter range and worse at passing through obstacles, but available in higher capacities, which means it can deal well with congested areas like inner cities. The 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands are somewhere in the middle.

The 3400MHz and 3600MHz bands meanwhile are even shorter range than the 2600MHz one and are used for 5G, along with the long-range 700MHz band.

This selection of bands is similar to what most other networks have access to, but for more in depth information, check out our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Customer service

While hard to judge conclusively, one report suggests BT’s customer service may be middling to good.

According to an Ofcom service quality report from 2021, BT Mobile had 17 Ofcom complaints per 100,000 customers, with 7% of customers finding a reason to complain to the network. The first of those figures is about average relative to other networks, while the second is better than many but not all, and the average call waiting time was lower than any other network on test, at 46 seconds.

Conclusion

Overall BT Mobile is a good network choice, but exactly how good depends on your needs. By leveraging the power of EE’s infrastructure, BT has one of the fastest networks around with 5G included, and if you’re a Halo customer you can even get unlimited data.

But it has also got benefits of its own, such as free access to BT’s extensive network of Wi-Fi hotspots, along with access to the BT Sport app on select plans. And there are other extras too, such Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling on select handsets.

It's not an all-rounder - its offerings feel slightly limited, as there’s no Pay As You Go and a very limited phone choice. BT also isn’t as competitive for unlimited data or pricing as some rivals, but if you’re happy to have a contract and either subscribe to other BT services or don’t need the very best deals and data allowances, then it’s a strong choice.

Alternatives

There are loads of other mobile networks to choose from, and you’ll find full reviews of most of them on our site, but if you’re reading this review, then perhaps you want a network with the same coverage as BT Mobile.

In that case, EE is an obvious choice, since BT owns EE and uses the same mobile infrastructure. But EE is a more premium network, with a wider selection of devices and plans, along with more extras – including plans that have subscriptions to music or video services included.

There’s also Plusnet Mobile, which again has the same coverage, and is typically cheaper than BT Mobile. But it only offers SIM-only plans, and you can’t get unlimited data or 5G.

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