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Lebara Mobile Review and Network Coverage

20th April 2022

Lebara Mobile is a mobile network with international calling at its heart, as many of its plans let you call dozens of destinations at no extra cost.

However, that’s not all it has going for it, as Lebara Mobile also has flexible plans and plenty of coverage, since it uses Vodafone as its infrastructure partner.

But Lebara isn’t the perfect fit for everyone, so read on below for a full review of the network in which we’ll highlight all the good and bad aspects, as well as giving you a rundown of its coverage.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Free international calls

No pay monthly

Short-term plans

Few extras

Free roaming in India

 

Our Rating

Table of Contents

Coverage

Which network does Lebara use?

Lebara uses Vodafone’s network, which means it offers 3G, 4G and even 5G coverage in all the same places as Vodafone. This also means that as Vodafone’s coverage improves, Lebara’s will too.

Lebara Mobile Coverage (Vodafone Network)

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in 138 locations

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

Lebara Coverage Checker

5G coverage

Lebara Mobile has also launched a 5G service and it’s available in the same places as Vodafone’s 5G. Specifically, you can get 5G on Lebara in parts of at least 138 towns and cities, including but not limited to:

Aberdeen, Alexandria, Ambleside, Aughton (Sth Yorks), Basingstoke, Bebington, Belfast, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bishopbriggs, Blaydon, Bolton, Bootle, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Bristol Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gatley, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Clydebank, Crawley (West Sussex), Crosby, Dewsbury, Dinas Powys, Droylsden, Dudley (West Midlands), Dundee, Eccles, Edinburgh, Eston and South Bank, Felling, Gateshead, Glasgow, Gloucester, Gosforth (Tyne & Wear), Guildford, Hebburn, Helensburgh, Horwich, Huddersfield, Huyton-with-Roby, Inner London, Isles of Scilly, Jarrow, Kingston upon Hull, Kingswood (Bristol), Lancaster, Leeds, Lisburn, Liverpool, Llandudno, Long Benton/Killingworth, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Middlesbrough, Morley, Mosborough/Highlane, Newbury, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Oldbury/Smethwick, Outer London, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prescot, Prestwich, Pudsey, Rawmarsh, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sheffield, Shipley, Solihull, South Shields, Southampton, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stranraer, Stretford, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Swansea, Swinton and Pendlebury, Tynemouth, Urmston, Wallasey, Wallsend, Warrington, Washington, Whitley Bay, and Wolverhampton.

4G coverage

Since Lebara is a Vodafone MVNO, it has the same coverage as Vodafone, which means roughly 99% 4G population coverage across the UK.

4G from Vodafone (and by extension Lebara) is now available in a huge number of cities, towns, and villages, including but by no means limited to:

Basingstoke, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Coventry, Dudley, Edinburgh, Epsom, Ewell, Folkestone, Gateshead, Glasgow, Hatfield , Hove and Hastings, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Jarrow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Maidstone, Newbury, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oldham, Pontefract, Portsmouth, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Staines, Stourbridge, Swinton, Southampton, Tunbridge, Wakefield, Walsall, Watford, Wells and West Bromwich.

Vodafone/Lebara’s 4G service is also available in thousands of smaller villages and other communities across the UK.

3G coverage

Lebara has around 99% 3G coverage and 99% 2G, so its network is extensively available.

You can check all coverage types for your area and elsewhere on Lebara’s coverage checker, linked above.

Plans

Lebara Mobile Pay Monthly Plans

 

SIM Only

Mobile Phones Data Only

Plans Available

x x

Max Data

Unlimited

N/A N/A

Contract lengths

1 or 12 months

N/A N/A

As you can see, Lebara’s plans are short term, lasting just 30 days, which makes the network more flexible than some, as you can change or cancel your plan almost whenever you want.

Lebara also allows tethering and its plans let you call abroad at no extra cost, plus you can get up to unlimited data, all plans now come with 5G, and there aren’t any credit checks. However there’s not much in the way of extra features.

Lebara only really offers SIM-only plans. You can buy phones on the network, but these are either paid for outright or by splitting the cost in three.

That said, Lebara also lets you Pay As You Go at a rate of 25p per minute, 19p per text and 9p per megabyte.

Those rates aren’t great, but note that if you’re calling or texting another Lebara number in the UK it will be free, and as its plans mostly last just 30 days you can make your money go further by opting for one of them, without really losing the freedom and flexibility of Pay As You Go.

Lebara perks and policies

 

SIM Only

5G

Roaming

Tethering

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check

Beyond allowances, there are a few other things to know about Lebara’s plans. These are shown in the chart above and detailed below.

5G

Lebara offers 5G as standard on all of its plans, so you won’t have to select a specific plan or pay any extra to get it. However you will of course need a 5G phone, otherwise your data will top out at 4G regardless of your plan.

Roaming Destinations

Like many UK networks, Lebara Mobile lets you roam across the EU at no extra cost. However, it notes that with some bundles the use of data may be subject to a fair usage policy.

Unlike most UK networks, you can also roam at no extra cost in India. At the time of writing, the fair use policy for this states that you can use up to 10GB of data, 200 minutes to call within India or back to the UK, 200 minutes of incoming calls, and 200 texts to India or the UK.

Tethering

At the time of writing we can’t see any reference to tethering on Lebara’s website, however most networks allow this and Lebara certainly used to, so it presumably still does.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling isn’t offered by Lebara. If it was, you’d be able to make calls over Wi-Fi, using your normal dialler and SMS apps to stay in touch when there’s no signal.

VoLTE

VoLTE isn’t offered by Lebara either, though the network has claimed it will be soon. VoLTE means being able to make calls over 4G, so you can call even if there’s no 2G or 3G signal.

Data rollover

Lebara doesn’t offer data rollover, so you only have one chance to use your monthly data allowance. A few networks will roll over unused data to a second month, which is handy, but most networks don’t allow this, so we won’t mark Lebara down for not doing.

Spending caps

Lebara doesn’t offer customisable spending caps, but the network doesn’t allow you to spend outside your bundle, so if you use up your allowances you won’t be able to accidentally spend extra money, and if you want to do something that isn’t covered by your bundle (such as call a premium rate number) you’ll need to add credit to your account.

Unlimited data

Lebara offers plans with unlimited data, and these are ideal for heavy data users, as you don’t need to worry about maxing out your allowance.

This is truly unlimited data too, with no fair usage restrictions in the UK. However, when roaming there’s a variable fair usage limit, which you can read up to date details of here. That applies in European locations offering inclusive roaming, while in India the monthly limit is set at 10GB.

Family plans

Lebara doesn’t offer family plans of any kind – you can have a maximum of two SIM cards on your account, and you don’t get any discounts for having a second.

Credit checks

One advantage of Lebara is that the network doesn’t carry out credit checks, so its plans are ideal if you have bad credit. This also makes signing up a breeze – the network boasts that people have signed up in under 60 seconds.

Unique perks

International calling is one area where Lebara Mobile stands out, as it has various plans which give you an allowance of minutes to call abroad with, without paying extra. At the time of writing these plans typically support calling to 42 different countries.

Awards

Lebara hasn’t won any major awards recently, but that’s not surprising – with there being so many networks most of them aren’t significant award winners, so this isn’t necessarily a bad sign. We’ll update this section if Lebara wins a notable award.

Network

Network Speeds

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

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

44/9.7Mbps

36.0ms

Three

25.2/6.3Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone (Lebara Mobile)

21.6/7.4Mbps

39.0ms

O2

17.1/5.4Mbps

38.1ms

There isn’t much information on Lebara’s speeds, but according to Opensignal data from September 2021, Vodafone’s average download speed is 21.6Mbps, while its average upload speed is 7.4Mbps. Lebara’s speeds may be similar, since it uses the same infrastructure, and that would put it behind EE and Three but ahead of O2 for downloads, and only behind EE for uploads. These speeds factor in a combination of 5G, 4G and 3G.

Vodafone’s (and potentially therefore Lebara’s) average latency meanwhile is said – based on an older April 2020 report - to be 39.0ms. Latency is how long the network takes to respond to a request, so lower numbers are better here, putting Vodafone (and potentially Lebara Mobile) in an average position. We used older data here because latency wasn’t included in recent reports.

For 5G, a September 2020 report from Point Topic found that Vodafone’s average download speed is 143.6Mbps, while a 2021 report from Ookla found its median 5G download speed to be 159Mbps, so Lebara’s speeds may well be similar.

Traffic management

On the subject of traffic management, Lebara Mobile says “We reserve the right to manage your use of the Network in order to protect it for the use of all of our customers. We may therefore apply traffic management controls from time to time to protect the Network.”

So it doesn’t get very specific, but we’d imagine traffic management might be applied when there’s serious congestion, network faults or excessive use.

Network Frequencies

Lebara Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

900MHz

Band 8 2G & 3G

1400MHz SDL

Band 32 4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G

2600MHz FDD

Band 7

4G

2600MHz TDD

Band 38

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

Lebara uses Vodafone’s spectrum bands, which means it presumably uses the 800MHz, 1400MHz and 2600MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band is long range and good at passing through walls, so it’s handy in both rural locations (where there aren’t many masts) and more urban locations.

However, it’s not great at handling large numbers of connections, which is a strength of the 2600MHz band. The 1400MHz band is a middle ground. For 5G, Lebara uses the high frequency 3400MHz and 3600MHz bands.

The table above provides an overview of all the bands Vodafone/Lebara uses for 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G. For more in-depth information, check out our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Customer service

There haven’t been many studies into Lebara’s customer service, but one way to get an idea of it is to look at the network’s Trustpilot rating, which currently stands at 4.5/5, which is considered an ‘excellent’ score. So based on that it’s probably one of the best for customer service. 

Conclusion

Lebara is a great choice if you plan to regularly call international numbers or want to regularly roam in India. It’s also a solid choice if you just want the flexibility of not being tied into a contract – though lots of other networks offer similar flexibility.

If you’re after extras such as VoLTE or data rollover this isn’t the network for you though, and it doesn’t offer handsets on a contract, making it a mediocre choice for most users.

Alternatives

One key alternative network is Vodafone, since Lebara uses Vodafone’s infrastructure, so their coverage is the same. If you choose Vodafone then you’ll benefit from a wider variety of plans and extras, but at a potentially higher price, and with less of a focus on international calling.

Other alternatives include Virgin MobileAsda Mobile, and Talkmobile, all of which also have the same coverage. These networks are typically cheap too, but again, they lack Lebara’s international calling focus.

If that’s important to you then consider Lyca Mobile, which is a similarly positioned network but with different coverage.

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