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Tesco Mobile Review and Network Coverage

30th July 2021

Tesco Mobile Network Coverage

Tesco Mobile is an MVNO that looks to stand out primarily through good value plans and a large range of Pay As You Go options. It’s a fairly conventional network in most ways, but that’s no bad thing.

It’s an O2 MVNO, so as it uses O2’s towers it doesn’t need to worry about infrastructure of its own. You can also be sure of widespread 4G coverage, and it was one of the first MVNOs to offer 5G.

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 review and overview 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.

5G coverage

Tesco Mobile switched on its 5G service on March 3rd, 2020, and as it uses O2’s infrastructure it has coverage in all the same places, meaning at least 194 places at the time of writing. They are as follows:

Aberdeen, Allesley, Altrincham, Ambleside, Ashford, Aughton, Aylesbury, Banbury, Banstead, Basildon, Basingstoke, Beaconsfield, Bedford, Belfast, Bilston, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Birstall, Blackburn, Blackpool, Blaydon, Bolton, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bradley Stoke, Bridge of Don, Brighton, Bristol, Brombourgh, Burton upon Trent, Bury St Edmunds, Byfleet, Calverley, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chadwell St Mary, Chatham, Cheadle, Chelmsford, Cheltenham, Chertsey, Chesterfield, Chilworth, Chipstead, Clacton-on-Sea, Colchester, Coventry, Danderhall, Darlington, Dartford, Derby, Dewsbury, Dinas Powys, Doncaster, Dudley, Dundee, Dunstable, Durham, Dyce, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Egham, Epsom, Esher, Eton and Windsor, Falmer, Gateshead, Gatton Bottom, Gillingham, Glasgow, Gloucester, Gravesend, Grays, Great Yarmouth, Grimsby, Guildford, Halifax, Harlington, Harlow, Hastings, Hebburn, Hemel Hempstead, Hextable, High Wycombe, Horwich, Hove, How Wood, Huddersfield, Hull, Inverness, Ipswich, Iver Heath, Jarrow, Joyden's Wood, Kemprow, Kettering, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln, Lisburn, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Longford, Loughborough, Lowestoft, Luton, Maidenhead, Maidstone, Manchester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Molesey, Monifieth, Morley, Musselburgh, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Newcastle Upon Tyne, New Denham, Newbury, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Oldham, Orpington, Oxford, Penarth, Peterborough, Plymouth, Plympton, Portsmouth, Potters Bar, Rainham, Reading, Redhill, Richings Park, Rochdale, Rotherham, Royal Leamington Spa, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Rugby, Salford, Sheffield, Shelf, Shepperton Green, Shinfield, Shirehampton, Slough, Solihull, Southampton, South Shields, Southend-On-Sea, Staines, St Albans, Stapleford, Stockton-on-Tees, Stranraer, Stevenage, Stockport, Stockton, Stoke-on-Trent, Strathclyde, Sunbury, Sunderland, Swansea, Swindon, Tatling End, Thornaby-on-Tees, Thorpe, Thundersley, Trumps Green, Tynemouth, Virginia Water, Wakefield, Wallasey, Waltham Abbey, Warrington, Washington, Watford, Wavertree, West Bromwich, Weybridge, Whickham, Whitley Bay, Wickersley, Wolverhampton, Worthing, Wythenshawe and York.

You’ll need a 5G phone and plan to take advantage of 5G, but Tesco Mobile offers both, with phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 (among many others) available at the time of writing. And it’s worth getting on board, as it’s far faster than 4G, speeds for which can be seen below.

Network Speeds and Frequencies

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, October 2020, and April 2020

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

36.4/9.1Mbps

36.0ms

Three

22.2/8.0Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

22.4/8.5Mbps

39.0ms

Tesco Mobile (O2)

18.2/6.2Mbps

38.1ms

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 2020, O2 was found to have average 4G download speeds of 18.2Mbps and average 4G upload speeds of 6.2Mbps, which in both cases 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 found in an earlier April 2020 report to be 38.1ms, which has Three and Vodafone beat, but not EE.

For 5G, a Point Topic report from September 2020 suggests that O2’s average 5G download speed is 115.7Mbps, so again Tesco’s might be similar, and that’s a big upgrade on 4G speeds.

Tesco Mobile Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

700MHz

n29 4G & 5G

800MHz

Band 20

4G

900MHz

Band 8

2G & 3G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2300MHz

Band 40

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

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.

For 5G, Tesco has access to the 3400MHz and 3600MHz bands, and these are the shortest range of all, but can cope with lots of connections.

Then there’s the 700MHz band, which is low frequency (and therefore long range), and which could be used for 5G, 4G or both.

You can find in depth details of these bands and others in our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

Tesco Mobile’s improvements are tied to O2’s, but there’s always stuff in the works there. Right now O2’s focus is on expanding its 5G coverage, which will also expand Tesco’s.

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

Unlimited

Unlimited

Contract lengths

12, 18, 24, 30 or 36 months

12 or 18 months

Tethering

VoLTE

Wi-Fi Calling

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

 

View deals

View deals

SIM Only Deals
Tesco Mobile

18 Month Contract

2 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£7.50 a month

View Deal

Tesco Mobile

18 Month Contract

10 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£9.00 a month

View Deal

Tesco Mobile

12 Month Contract

10 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£10.00 a month

View Deal

Tesco Mobile

18 Month Contract

25 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£12.50 a month

View Deal

Tesco Mobile

18 Month Contract

50 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£13.50 a month

View Deal

View All Tesco Mobile Sim Only 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. Tesco also offers 5G on Pay Monthly and SIM Only, but only on select plans. You can see more in-depth details of Pay Monthly and SIM Only above, while Pay As You Go is in a chart below.

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 unlimited 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 data limits ranging from 2GB to unlimited. 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 unlimited each month to tether if you’re on a top-end plan.

Wi-Fi 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

100GB

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 100GB.

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 allowances 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 report from 2021, Tesco was found to have the fewest complaints to Ofcom of any mobile provider, with just 3 for every 100,000 customers.

The report also found that 91% of customers were happy with the service on Tesco Mobile overall, with 7% having a reason to complain, and 55% being satisfied with the way their complaint was handled.

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 and 5G now available, 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. Still, it would make a good choice for most people.

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