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Talkmobile Review and Network Coverage

21st February 2020

Talkmobile Review and Coverage

Talkmobile is an MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) owned by Vodafone, so of course it also uses Vodafone’s infrastructure and spectrum – meaning it has coverage in all the same places.

But where Vodafone is a premium network with loads of options, Talkmobile focuses instead on keeping things affordable and simple.

That means there aren’t many plans to choose from, there’s not much in the way of extras, and you can forget about unlimited data, but you also won’t have to pay much, making it ideal – on paper – for lighter users.

But does Talkmobile deliver in practice? Read on to find out, as we’ve looked at every key aspect, all of which are detailed below.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Low prices

Low data limits

Unlimited minutes

Few plans or extras

Our Verdict 

Coverage

Talkmobile Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

 

As noted above, Talkmobile has the same coverage as Vodafone. That means 99% 4G population coverage, as well as 99% for both 3G and 2G.

That’s a decent amount, but notably all UK networks have near comprehensive 4G and 3G coverage, so it’s not much better or worse than any other network.

4G Network Coverage Comparison

Network

4G coverage by population

EE

>99%

Talkmobile (Vodafone)

99%

O2

99%

Three

99.8%

4G from Vodafone (and therefore also Talkmobile) is available in over 1000 larger towns and cities, including but not 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.

And that’s just the start: it also has 4G coverage in thousands of smaller towns, villages, and other communities across the UK.

5G coverage

Talkmobile doesn’t yet offer a 5G service, though one of its customer service agents told us that the network should be adding it soon, but with no exact time frame at the moment.

Given that Vodafone owns the network and offers 5G itself it would make sense for Talkmobile to offer it soon – unless Vodafone wants to keep this as a premium feature.

If and when Talkmobile does start offering 5G it will of course be in the same places as Vodafone, which at the time of writing means partial coverage in 40 UK towns and cities. 

Network Speeds and Frequencies

Talkmobile tops out at standard 4G speeds, which are roughly 5 times faster than a standard 3G network.

OpenSignal – Mobile Network Experience, October 2019

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

33.7/8.9Mbps

37.3ms

Three

21.6/7.4Mbps

46.3ms

Vodafone

25.1/7.8Mbps

39.4ms

O2

16.9/5.7Mbps

37.4ms

While there isn’t much data on Talkmobile’s network, there’s plenty on Vodafone’s, which should broadly be the same. According to an OpenSignal report shown in the chart above, Vodafone’s average 4G download speed is 25.1Mbps and its average 4G upload speed is 7.8Mbps. Those are both behind EE but ahead of Three and O2.

Its average latency (how long the network takes to respond to a request) was found to be 39.4ms, which is better than Three’s but worse than EE's or O2’s. Talkmobile’s figures then are likely to be similar.

Talkmobile 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

Vodafone (and therefore also Talkmobile) uses the 800MHz, 1400MHz and 2600MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band works over a long range and is ideal for passing through walls, while the 2600MHz band has greater capacity, giving it an advantage when connecting lots of devices at once. The 1400MHz band is a middle ground.

If and when Talkmobile starts offering 5G, it’s likely to use the 3400MHz band for that. This is even higher frequency than the 2600MHz band, and therefore takes the good and bad points of the 2600MHz band even further.

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

Planned improvements

Talkmobile is largely reliant on Vodafone for improvements, and Vodafone’s focus at the moment is on expanding its 5G network. That doesn’t directly benefit Talkmobile right now, but will do if and when it offers 5G.

Traffic management

Talkmobile states that “if you do anything (or allow anything to be done) which we reasonably think may damage or affect the operation of the Network such as for example creating a GSM Gateway, Artificially Inflated Traffic or similar” then it reserves the right to cancel your service.

Beyond that there doesn’t appear to be any real traffic management policy, but it’s likely similar to Vodafone, which prioritises calls (including emergency services calls) over data traffic, and will always prioritise VoLTE, in order to maintain call quality. However, these things only really come into play when the network is congested.

Plans

Talkmobile offers just four SIM Only plans. However, it also offers a small selection of smartphones that can be paired with these plans.

SIM Only Deals
Talkmobile

1 Month Contract

1 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£5.00 a month

View Deal

Talkmobile

1 Month Contract

2 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£6.00 a month

View Deal

Talkmobile

1 Month Contract

3 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£7.00 a month

View Deal

Talkmobile

1 Month Contract

4 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Talkmobile

1 Month Contract

5 GB data

UNLIMITED mins

UNLIMITED texts

£9.00 a month

View Deal

View All Talkmobile Sim Only Deals

Plan Benefits

EU Roaming

Global Roaming

Tethering

Data Rollover

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Talkmobile’s SIM Only plans all last 30 days and all come with unlimited minutes and texts. They’re also all very cheap, as you can see above.

However, you don’t get much data, even at the top end, so they’re best suited to light data users – though the unlimited minutes make them a great affordable choice if you make a lot of calls.

Basic extras such as roaming and tethering are included (more on which below), but these plans don’t have any premium features that would drive the price up.

Data Only Plans – For Tablets and Dongles

Talkmobile doesn’t offer any data only plans, though it states that you should be able to use your SIM card in a tablet.

Pay As You Go

Talkmobile doesn’t currently offer any Pay As You Go services.

Tethering

Tethering is included on all Talkmobile plans as standard, meaning you can share your data connection with other devices to get them online. That’s handy when there’s no Wi-Fi available. There doesn’t appear to be any limit to how much you can tether other than your own data allowance, but as data allowances are low on Talkmobile it won’t be the best network for regular tethering.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling means making calls over Wi-Fi. However, this service isn’t currently offered by Talkmobile.

VoLTE

VoLTE or Voice over LTE (also sometimes known as 4G Calling) means making calls over 4G. It’s beneficial as you can make calls in places that have 4G coverage but no 3G or 2G. However, this isn’t offered by Talkmobile.

Roaming Destinations

Talkmobile allows customers to use their allowance of minutes, texts and data at no extra cost in 41 European destinations. The full list is as follows:

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus (excluding Northern Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St Pierre & Miquelon, and Sweden.

Customer service

There isn’t much data on Talkmobile’s customer service, but there is some on Vodafone’s, which runs the network.

According to a 2018 Ofcom service quality report, 93% of customers were satisfied with their service on Vodafone, but 4% had a reason to complain and of those just 54% were satisfied with the way their complaint was handled.

In an Ofcom report from Q3 of 2019 meanwhile, it was found that 7 of every 100,000 Vodafone customers complained to Ofcom. That might not sound like many, but it’s more than rivals (other than Virgin which it’s tied with), and the average is 4.

Conclusion

Talkmobile is a very basic network – there are only four plans, data limits are low, there’s no 5G and not much in the way of extras.

But some people only need basic. If you don’t need big data allowances and particularly if you’re a big talker (since all plans come with unlimited minutes) then Talkmobile could be a solid affordable option.

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