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Lycamobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

9th July 2019

LycaMobile Network Coverage

Wondering if Lycamobile is the network for you? It’s primarily aimed at people who want to make affordable international calls, but it has started to stand out more recently thanks to the addition of an unlimited data plan.

It’s a basic network in a lot of ways though, so while there’s plenty to like about Lycamobile it’s definitely not for everyone.

Read on for our full Lycamobile review, highlighting what’s good about the network, what’s not, and what type of user it’s best for. You’ll also find a detailed look at Lycamobile’s 4G coverage on this page.

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

Lycamboile is an O2 MVNO (meaning it uses O2’s infrastructure and spectrum) and as such its 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 are 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.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, April 2019

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

32.5/10.4Mbps

37.9ms

Three

21.6/8.3Mbps

48.7ms

Vodafone

24.3/8.5Mbps

41.2ms

Lycamobile (O2)

15.8/7.2Mbps

39.2ms

An OpenSignal report from April 2019 found that O2 has an average 4G download speed of 15.8Mbps, an average 4G upload speed of 7.2Mbps, and an average latency (the time the network takes to respond to a request) of 39.2ms.

That’s a reasonable latency, but its download and upload speeds compare poorly to rivals, which is bad news for Lycamobile, as it’s likely to sport similar results.

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.

The one band that O2 uses (or will do soon) that Lycamobile likely doesn’t right now is the 3400MHz one, as that’s used primarily for 5G.

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 improves its network regularly. As well as ongoing 4G upgrades, O2 is also looking ahead to the launch of its 5G service, though it’s unknown if or when Lycamobile will offer 5G.

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. Alternatively, there's a plan with 50GB of data (all of which can be used at 4G speeds), which might be more useful.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

Lycamobile offers a range of Data Only bundles, offering between 500MB and 3GB 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, you can’t roam for free further afield.

Customer Service

Lycamobile’s customer service is hard to judge, especially as no significant recent reports exist on it. However, the network has a Trustpilot rating of 1.1/10, which, unsurprisingly, is classed as ‘bad’. That’s based on 1,009 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 into a contract for long or need unlimited data (albeit at low speeds beyond 9GB).

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.

That last point is a serious mark against it, as the vast majority of networks do allow you to tether. Of course, this is only a problem if tethering is something you’d want to do. If not, and if you like what Lycamobile does offer, then there’s little reason not to go for it, other than that low customer service rating.

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