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Ctrl Mobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

5th February 2019

ctrl mobile coverage

Ctrl Mobile is a fairly recent entry to the network space, one which offers plans for a reasonable price and with no long-term commitment.

It also has some other things working in its favour, such as spending caps, and as it runs on Three’s infrastructure you might already have a good idea of what its coverage is like around you – but that’s something we’ll look at below.

There’s a lot that Ctrl Mobile is currently lacking though, so read on for a full overview and review of the network.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Spending cap

Low data limits

Low prices

No WiFi Calling or VoLTE

Short-term plans

No Pay Monthly

Our Rating

Coverage

Three Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99.8%

3G

98.3%

2G

N/A

Ctrl Mobile uses Three’s infrastructure, so where Three has coverage so does Ctrl. That means its 4G coverage currently reaches 99.8% of the UK population and its 3G coverage reaches 98.3%. So there’s coverage in most places and it’s more or less in line with rivals at this point. If anything, it’s slightly ahead of most.

You can use Three’s coverage checker above to find out more about Three (and by extension Ctrl Mobile) coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details of both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Coverage Comparison

Network

4G Coverage by population

Ctrl Mobile (Three)

99.8%

EE

 > 99%

O2

99%

Vodafone

99%

Towns and cities with partial or full Ctrl Mobile 4G coverage include (but are not limited to):

Aberdeen, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Coventry, Derby, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Gloucester, Huddersfield, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend On Sea, Stoke on Trent, Swindon, Watford and York.

Ctrl Mobile is reliant on Three to expand its coverage, but that’s no bad thing, as Three is bringing 4G to new locations all the time.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

Ctrl Mobile (Three)

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

O2

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

Three’s average 4G download speeds are 18.78Mbps, according to OpenSignal. Since Ctrl uses the same infrastructure and spectrum its speeds are likely to be similar.

Three’s average latency is said to be 48.15ms, which is worse than rivals, so Ctrl might also be worse there. Latency is a measurement of how long the network takes to respond to a request, which can be important for things like online gaming and anything else where a fraction of a second makes a difference.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Ctrl Mobile (Three)

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2

14.11/7.13Mbps

Speedtest’s download speed figures put Three (and by extension likely Ctrl Mobile) in third place with an average speed of 14.58Mbps. But this factors in both 3G and 4G, whereas OpenSignal’s just looked at 4G speeds.

Three (and by extension likely Ctrl Mobile) also comes in third place for average upload speeds with 7.35Mbps according to Speedtest. Again though, this will be an average of 3G and 4G speeds.

Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G

Ctrl Mobile uses Three’s frequency, and Three uses the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band is long range, making it useful in rural places where masts are typically spread far apart. It can also penetrate walls well, helping it bring a 4G signal indoors.

The 1800MHz band isn’t quite as long range or as good at penetrating walls, but it’s available in a higher capacity, helping it cope with a large number of simultaneous connections.

Three also has some spectrum in the 3.4GHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands, but this is currently being saved for use with 5G.

For more information on frequencies, check out our 4G frequencies guide, or see the table above for a breakdown of Three’s and Ctrl Mobile’s frequency usage.

Planned improvements

Ctrl Mobile is a new network, but it’s got the might of Three’s infrastructure behind it and is reliant on Three for most improvements.

Three for its part is constantly improving its network and has recently announced that it’s spending over £2 billion on network upgrades in preparation for 5G.

Traffic management

Ctrl Mobile doesn’t appear to publish a specific traffic management policy, suggesting that in general no types of traffic will be prioritised or limited. However, its terms and conditions notes that ‘excessive’ use is not allowed.

Being a Three MVNO it may also fall under Three’s traffic management, which can restrict or prioritise certain types of data use when the network is congested or has a fault.

Plans

Ctrl Mobile offers a small range of SIM Only plans, each of which lasts 30 days, so you’re free to change or cancel your plan whenever.

Pay Monthly Plans

 

SIM Only

Plans Available

Max Data

2GB

Contract lengths

1 month

VoLTE

WiFi Calling

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Ctrl Mobile’s SIM Only plans start at £4.99 per month for 500MB of data and top out at 2GB of data, for £7.99 per month. All plans also include unlimited minutes and texts.

So it’s a good value network but its data limits are very low. It’s also flexible as plans only last 30 days. Plans are capped too, and you can set the cap at anywhere from £0 to £100, so you won’t spend more than you expect.

Note that Ctrl Mobile also used to offer an unlimited data plan, but at the time of writing this no longer seems to be available.

Pay As You Go

Ctrl Mobile doesn't currently offer a Pay As You Go service.

Tethering

Tethering is allowed on all Ctrl Mobile plans and you can use as much of your data as you like, unless you’re on a plan with unlimited data, in which case it’s capped at 10GB.

WiFi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling allows you to call and text over Wi-Fi using your normal number, so it’s handy if you’re in an area with no signal, however, it’s not currently offered by Ctrl Mobile.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE, and it means making and receiving calls over 4G, which can be useful in areas which don’t have a 3G signal. Right now though you can’t use VoLTE on Ctrl Mobile.

Roaming Destinations

Ctrl Mobile lets you use your allowances as normal when roaming in the EU.

Customer service

As a small, new network there’s unsurprisingly no real customer service data available for Ctrl Mobile yet.

At the time of writing it has a 4.6/10 rating on Trustpilot, which is considered ‘poor’, but that’s only based on 12 reviews.

We’ll be sure to update this section as soon as we hear anything more.

Conclusion

Ctrl Mobile stands out primarily through offering fairly low prices and spending caps, along with basics like tethering and EU roaming.

However, it’s lacking a lot of features found on many other networks, most notably Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go, but also WiFi Calling and VoLTE. But if you don't need much data and are happy with SIM Only it could be a decent option.

 

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