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Lycamobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

12th November 2018

LycaMobile Network Coverage

Lycamobile is primarily aimed at people who want to make affordable international calls. However, its UK rates are reasonable too and it offers 4G.

Lycamobile uses O2’s infrastructure, so where O2 has 4G Lycamobile does too. Currently that means it has around 99% UK population coverage indoors, across thousands of towns, cities and villages.

There’s plenty more to Lycamobile though, so read on for all the details along with a full review of the network.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Short term plans

Limited to EU roaming

Unlimited data option

No WiFi Calling or VoLTE

Inclusive international calls

Tethering isn't allowed

Our Rating

Coverage

As an O2 MVNO, Lycamobile’s 4G coverage isn’t quite as good as Three's or EE’s, but it’s getting close and it’s still got 4G readily available in most urban and many rural locations. 3G and 2G coverage is strong too.

Lycamobile Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

Use Lycamobile’s coverage checker above to find out more about Lycamobile 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%

Lycamobile (O2)

99%

Three

99.8%

As you can see in the chart above, Lycamobile’s coverage is potentially better than Vodafone’s but slightly worse than Three’s and EE’s.

4G from O2 and by extension Lycamobile is now available in well over 16,000 UK towns, cities and villages, including but 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 and by extension a Lycamobile 4G upgrade include: numerous locations in Gloucestershire.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

Three

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

Lycamobile (O2)

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

An OpenSignal report from October 2018 found that O2 has an average 4G download speed of 14.61Mbps and an average latency (the time the network takes to respond to a request) of 42.38ms.

That compares poorly to rivals, as you can see, with its download speed being the worst and its latency being the second worst, which is bad news for Lycamobile, as it’s likely to sport similar results.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

EE

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Three

14.58/7.35Mbps

Lycamobile (O2)

14.11/7.13Mbps

In a Speedtest report from late 2017, O2’s results (and by extension probably Lycamobile’s) were similarly poor, with network’s average download speed coming in at 14.11Mbps and its average upload speed being 7.13Mbps, both of which are slower than rivals.

Lycamobile 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

Lycamobile presumably uses all the same bands as O2, meaning the 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz bands would be used for 4G. The 800MHz band is long range, making it great for rural locations where mobile masts are often spread far apart.

It’s also proficient at penetrating walls and other solid objects, making it useful in towns and cities too, and helping to make sure you can get 4G coverage whether you’re inside or outside. 

The 2300MHz band on the other hand can deal with lots of connections, making it suited to busy cities and the like, but it isn’t as long range or as good at passing through objects.

The 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands sit somewhere in between those two in terms of their strengths and weaknesses.

For more in-depth information, check out our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

O2 will be responsible for most of Lycamobile’s improvements, since Lycamobile uses O2’s infrastructure. And O2 has a lot planned, in fact it’s announced that it plans to build 1,000 new 4G sites across the UK by the end of 2018.

Not only that, but O2 has also said that it will improve 4G coverage in 339 rural communities by the end of 2018.

Traffic management

Lycamobile doesn’t currently publish a full traffic management policy, but it does say that there is a fair use policy, which could see your service limited or terminated if your usage is continually ‘excessive’ or ‘unreasonable’.

Plans

Lycamobile has a wide range of SIM Only plans and also allows you to Pay Monthly and Pay As You Go. More details can be found below, however note that all plans come with 4G at no extra cost and that tethering isn’t allowed on any plans.

Pay Monthly Phone Plans

Lycamobile has a small selection of Pay Monthly phones available with a subset of its SIM Only tariffs, which are detailed below.

SIM Only Plans

 

UK Plans

International Bundles

Max Data Allowance

Unlimited 10GB

Contract Length

30 days 30 days

EU Roaming

Roaming beyond EU

Tethering

Data Rollover

WiFi Calling

VoLTE

 

View Plans

View Plans

Lycamobile’s SIM Only plans are split between UK ones and international ones. The UK ones don’t allow you to roam outside the EU, though a couple do let you call international destinations at no extra cost. They top out at unlimited data, which few networks offer, and all last 30 days.

International plans also limit your inclusive roaming to the EU, however, most of the international bundles let you call dozens of international destinations from the UK at no extra cost, while most UK bundles don’t allow this.

But they top out at less data than the UK ones and cost more for the allowances you get.

It’s disappointing that a network with an international focus doesn’t have a wider roaming option, but unlimited data is a big bonus for those who need it.

Note however that Lycamobile’s unlimited data plan only gives you 4G speeds for the first 9GB. After that you get just 128kb/s.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

Lycamobile offers a range of Data Only bundles, offering between 500MB and 6GB of data. These last for 30 days, start at £5 per month and don’t include any minutes or text allowances.

Pay As You Go

Lycamobile offers a Pay As You Go service at a rate of 12p per minute (or 19p if calling a mobile rather than a landline), 12p per megabyte of data and 19p per text. However, calls and texts to other UK Lycamobile users are free. Given that its SIM Only bundles only last 30 days or less these are also appropriate for use with Pay As You Go.

Tethering

Tethering refers to using your phone’s mobile internet connection to get other devices online. This isn’t something that Lycamobile allows.

WiFi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling refers to making and receiving calls over Wi-Fi. It can also be used for texts and is beneficial as it means you can stay in touch when there’s no mobile signal, without having to use a separate app or account – you just use your number as normal. However, this service isn’t currently offered by Lycamobile.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE (aka 4G Calling) and is a similar idea to Wi-Fi Calling, except rather than using Wi-Fi to call and text you use 4G. The benefits are similar too, as it means you can talk and text where you wouldn’t otherwise be able to, but as with Wi-Fi Calling it’s not currently offered by Lycamobile.

Roaming Destinations

Many Lycamobile plans (including Pay As You Go) now allow you to use your minutes, texts and data at no extra cost in the EU. However, in most cases you can't use your full data allowance abroad and are instead capped at a lower figure which varies from plan to plan. On the unlimited data plan, for example, you can only use up to 6.75GB abroad each month.

Customer service

Lycamobile’s customer service is hard to judge, especially as no recent reports exist on it. However, the network has a Trustpilot rating of 0.2/10, which, unsurprisingly, is classed as ‘bad’. That’s based on 761 reviews, so doesn’t bode well for the network’s customer service.

It’s worth noting that few networks have a particularly great Trustpilot rating, so you may not want to read too much into it, but Lycamobile’s is one of the lowest.

Conclusion

Lycamobile is the network to choose if you plan to make a lot of international calls. It’s also a strong choice if you just don’t want to be tied in to a contract for long or need a lot of data.

It’s not quite as strong for roaming as you might expect an internationally focused network to be though, and it doesn’t allow tethering at all, so while you can get a lot of data you’re a bit restricted in how you can use it.

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