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Tesco Mobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

15th November 2018

Tesco Mobile Network Coverage

Tesco Mobile is an MVNO that uses O2. Because it uses O2’s towers it doesn’t need to worry about infrastructure of its own. As such you can also look at O2’s progress to get an idea of Tesco Mobile’s.

O2 currently has 4G coverage for around 99% of the UK population indoors and coverage continues to grow. So coverage is strong and getting better all the time.

But there are various reasons you might want to choose Tesco Mobile over O2 – or any other network – and some reasons you might not want to. So read on for a full overview and review of the network.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Good value

No inclusive roaming beyond Europe

Loads of Pay As You Go options

Not as good 4G coverage as some

Our Rating

Coverage

Tesco Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

Tesco Mobile has almost 100% population coverage with 4G, 3G and 2G, so you’re almost certain to get a signal. Speeds are variable though.

Use Tesco Mobile’s coverage checker above to find out more about Tesco Mobile's coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

4G from O2 and by extension Tesco Mobile is now available in thousands of UK towns, cities and villages.

The major towns and cities include but are 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 (and by extension Tesco Mobile) 4G upgrade include: Bream, Whitecroft, Wick, Drybrook, Frampton on Severn, Ruardean Hill, Saul, Great Rissington, Tirley, Doynton, Upper Framilode, Clements End, Oatfield, The Haw and Trow Green 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

Tesco Mobile (O2)

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

As an O2 MVNO, Tesco Mobile uses standard 4G, which is roughly 5 times faster than a standard 3G network.

In an OpenSignal report from October 2018, O2 was found to have average 4G download speeds of 14.61Mbps, which is slower than any major rival, so you can expect Tesco Mobile to be similarly slow – though notably that’s still fast enough to comfortably do most things you might want to on a phone.

Its average latency meanwhile (how long it takes for the network to respond to a request), was 42.38ms, which has Three beat, but not EE or Vodafone.

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

Tesco Mobile (O2)

14.11/7.13Mbps

A Speedtest report from late 2017 shows again that O2/Tesco Mobile is slower than rivals, with an average download speed of 14.11Mbps and an average upload speed of 7.13Mbps.

Tesco Mobile 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

Tesco Mobile uses the 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2300MHz bands for 4G. The 800MHz band is long range, so it can travel a long way between masts, but it’s also good at passing through the walls of buildings. Those two abilities combine to make it well suited to both urban and rural locations.

The 2300MHz band is more suited to busy areas but it’s shorter range, while the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands sit in the middle capability-wise.

You can find in depth details of this band and others in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

Tesco Mobile’s improvements are tied to O2’s, but there’s a lot in the works there, as O2 is busy building 1,000 new sites across the UK, so 4G should soon be more widely available.

O2 has also said that it will improve 4G coverage in 339 rural communities by the end of 2018, which will benefit Tesco Mobile as well.

Traffic management

Tesco Mobile states – like most networks – that emergency voice traffic will always be prioritised on its network.

The network also notes that when it comes to data, “customers whose use is so excessive that other customers are detrimentally affected will be warned to adjust their usage or risk disconnection.”

However, beyond this traffic management isn’t generally used, even at peak hours.

Plans

Tesco Mobile Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Plans Available

Max Data

50GB

50GB

Contract lengths

12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months

1 or 12 months

Tethering

VoLTE

WiFi Calling

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

 

View deals

View deals

Tesco Mobile offers Pay Monthly, SIM Only and Pay As You Go plans and all of them come with 4G at no extra cost. You can see more in-depth details of each plan type above.

Tesco Mobile’s Pay Monthly plans are a rarity in that you can choose a 12, 18, 24, 30 or 36-month plan, rather than only having 24-month plans available, and they come with a wide range of allowances, topping out at 50GB of data each month. You can use as much of that data as you want for tethering.

Tesco Mobile also has a wide range of SIM Only plans, with both 30-day and 12-month plans available and data limits ranging from 250MB to 50GB. As you’re not getting a phone with them they’re cheaper than Pay Monthly plans. And as with Pay Monthly, any or all of your data can be used for tethering.

Tesco Mobile doesn’t currently offer any Data Only plans.

Overall the highlight of Tesco’s plans, other than competitive prices, is the wide range of durations available on Pay Monthly. Lack of extras such as VoLTE (explained below) is the main weakness.

Tethering

Tethering refers to the ability to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, letting other devices share its network connection. This is allowed on Tesco Mobile and the only limit is your data allowance, which at the time of writing means you could use up to 50GB each month to tether if you’re on a top-end plan and don’t need any data for your phone.

WiFi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling refers to calling and texting over a Wi-Fi network using your regular number, dialler and SMS apps. It’s especially handy if you’re somewhere with a Wi-Fi network but no regular signal, however it’s not currently offered by Tesco Mobile.

VoLTE

VoLTE (Voice over LTE) refers to making a call over 4G, rather than 2G or 3G. The ability to do this means you can make and receive calls in places with only a 4G signal, but it’s not currently offered by Tesco Mobile.

Pay As You Go

Tesco Mobile Pay As You Go Plans

Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance

8GB

Add-on expiry 

30 days

Data Rollover

Top Up Expiry

6 months inactivity

Tethering

EU Roaming

Tesco Mobile has a range of money-saving Rocket Packs available, all of which last one month and automatically renew. They each come with a bundle of minutes, texts and data, topping out at 8GB.

Additionally, Tesco Mobile has Triple Credit tariffs which triple your credit when you top up £10, £15 or £20.

That free extra credit is available once a month and lasts one month. It’s used before any paid top up. You can’t both be on a Triple Credit tariff and use Rocket Packs at the same time.

Outside your bundle you’re charged 25p per minute, 10p per text and 10p per megabyte.

Roaming Destinations

Tesco Mobile's Home From Home service lets you use your minutes, texts and data at no extra cost in the following 48 destinations:

Austria, Azores, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, French Guyana, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madeira, Malta, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, St. Martin, St. Barts, Sweden, Switzerland and Vatican City.

Customer Service

Based on the available data, Tesco Mobile seems well-rated for customer service. For one thing, in an Ofcom complaints report from 2017, Tesco was found to have the fewest of any mobile provider, with just 1 for every 100,000 customers.

It also performed well in the Which? H1 2017 UK Mobile Network Survey, in which it was rated third overall, with a customer score of 74%, based on responses from 4,026 members of the public.

It achieved a 4-star customer service rating, a 4-star ease/speed of contacting score and 4 stars for value for money (all out of 5), though only received 2 stars for incentives. Still, that ranks it above most networks overall, and even the top-rated network (Giffgaff) only matched Tesco Mobile’s customer service rating.

Conclusion

Tesco Mobile has a wider range of Pay As You Go options than most networks, with bundles and plans to suit almost any type of user, as long as that user wants to pay as they go.

It also has a wide range of Pay Monthly plan durations, and it’s generally competitively priced.

With tethering allowed as well, Tesco Mobile is a strong network, but be aware that none of its plans let you roam beyond Europe for free and it lacks certain extras, such as VoLTE and Wi-Fi Calling.

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