flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

Vodafone Coverage and Network Review

17th February 2022

Vodafone Network Coverage

Vodafone has gone from strength to strength since it launched its 4G mobile network in 2013, as it now has at least 99% UK 4G population coverage across thousands of towns, cities and villages, and has also started rapidly rolling out 5G.

Beyond coverage, Vodafone has some significant selling points, such as entertainment subscriptions included with plans, and 5G roaming.

Here’s everything you need to know about the network, including where 4G and 5G are available, what kinds of plans and extras it offers, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Good coverage

Not the cheapest network

5G roaming

Not as fast as EE

Inclusive entertainment

 

Our Rating

Table of Contents

Coverage

Vodafone Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in 127 locations

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

5G coverage

Vodafone first made 5G available on July 3rd, which made it the second UK network to do so (roughly a month after EE’s May 30th switch on date).

5G from Vodafone was initially only available in seven cities, but many more locations have now had a 5G upgrade, with at least 127 locations having 5G at the time of writing. Below you'll find a list of many of the places that have Vodafone 5G coverage:

Aberdeen, Alexandria, Ambleside, Aughton (Sth Yorks), Basingstoke, Bebington, Belfast, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bishopbriggs, Blaydon, Bolton, Bootle, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Bristol Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gatley, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Clydebank, Crawley (West Sussex), Crosby, Dewsbury, Dinas Powys, Droylsden, Dudley (West Midlands), Dundee, Eccles, Edinburgh, Eston and South Bank, Felling, Gateshead, Glasgow, Gloucester, Gosforth (Tyne & Wear), Guildford, Hebburn, Helensburgh, Horwich, Huddersfield, Huyton-with-Roby, Inner London, Isles of Scilly, Jarrow, Kingston upon Hull, Kingswood (Bristol), Lancaster, Leeds, Lisburn, Liverpool, Llandudno, Long Benton/Killingworth, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Middlesbrough, Morley, Mosborough/Highlane, Newbury, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Oldbury/Smethwick, Outer London, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prescot, Prestwich, Pudsey, Rawmarsh, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sheffield, Shipley, Solihull, South Shields, Southampton, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stranraer, Stretford, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Swansea, Swinton and Pendlebury, Tynemouth, Urmston, Wallasey, Wallsend, Warrington, Washington, Whitley Bay, and Wolverhampton.

So Vodafone offers 5G in lots of locations, though initially you should only expect partial coverage in these places, and as with 4G it will likely be years before UK coverage is comprehensive.

But it could be worth waiting for, as 5G is much, much faster than 4G, as well as offering lower latency and greater capacity, so you can stream, download, and browse faster, more smoothly and in higher-quality – it could for example make 8K or even holographic streamed video viable, among many other things.

To use 5G you will need a 5G plan (which Vodafone is pricing at the same level as 4G plans), and a 5G phone, but Vodafone already offers numerous 5G handsets. They include the Samsung Galaxy S22, Samsung Galaxy S22 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S22 UltraSamsung Galaxy S21Samsung Galaxy S21 PlusSamsung Galaxy S21 UltraiPhone 13iPhone 13 ProiPhone 13 Pro MaxiPhone 13 MiniiPhone 12iPhone 12 ProiPhone 12 Pro Max, and iPhone 12 Mini, among others.

4G coverage

Vodafone has roughly 99% population coverage with 4G, which is in line with rivals. As a result, 4G from Vodafone is now 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, Hastings, Hemel Hempstead, Hove, 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.

Vodafone’s 4G service is also available in thousands of smaller villages and other communities across the UK.

3G coverage

Vodafone has around 99% population coverage with 3G, so a similar amount of coverage as 4G, and similarly in line with other networks. Between the two network technologies it has most of the UK covered, with 5G offering a speedier option in many areas.

You can use Vodafone’s coverage checker above to find out more about Vodafone coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details of both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Plans

Vodafone offers a range of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans, or you can opt to Pay As You Go.

Vodafone Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

Max Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Contract lengths

24 months

1, 12 or 24 months

1, 12 or 24 months

 

View deals

View deals

View deals

SIM Only Deals
Vodafone

12 Month Contract

4 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£6.00 a month

View Deal

Vodafone

12 Month Contract

20 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Vodafone

12 Month Contract

100 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£20.00 a month

View Deal

Vodafone

12 Month Contract

40 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£10.00 a month

View Deal

Vodafone

24 Month Contract

1 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£11.00 a month

View Deal

View All Vodafone Sim Only Deals

Plans are further split into ‘Red’, ‘Unlimited Lite’, ‘Unlimited’ and ‘Unlimited Max’, with Unlimited Max and Red plans additionally available with ‘Xtra benefits’ in some cases. You can see what you get with each below, but most come with 5G at no extra cost. They also all come with access to VeryMe Rewards, which provide customers with weekly discounts, giveaways and prize draws.

Plan Benefits

 

Red

Unlimited Lite

Unlimited

Unlimited Max

Tethering

Max data speeds

TBC*

2Mbps

10Mbps

Unrestricted

Free roaming

Yes, on Xtra plans Yes, on Xtra plans

Extended roaming

Yes, on Xtra plans

*Vodafone hasn’t published any details on the current speed of its Red plans, so presumably they’re unrestricted.

Vodafone’s Pay Monthly plans are split into ‘Red’, ‘Unlimited Lite’, ‘Unlimited’ and ‘Unlimited Max’. Red plans are generally the cheapest, as they’re the only ones that don’t come with unlimited data. However, some Red plans do come with inclusive entertainment, with a choice of Spotify Premium, Amazon Prime, or YouTube Premium. For this reason, these plans can actually cost more than Unlimited Lite.

Unlimited plans of all varieties give you unlimited data, but the speeds vary. On Unlimited Lite, download speeds are up to 2Mbps, on Unlimited they’re up to 10Mbps, and on Unlimited Max they’re unrestricted, which is what you need for 5G speeds. Unlimited and Unlimited Max plans can also optionally come with the inclusive entertainment options above.

Free roaming in Europe is limited to plans that come with ‘4 Xtra Benefits’. These benefits also include £3.50 per month off smartwatch connectivity, unlimited picture messages, and device care. If you’re on an ‘Xtra’ plan that doesn’t have unlimited data then you also get ‘Unlimited Data Boosters’, which let you boost yourself to unlimited data for 30 days a set number of times.

Select Unlimited Max plans also let you roam further afield at no extra cost (more on this in the roaming section below). This used to be a feature of all Unlimited Max plans, but at the time of writing it’s limited to Unlimited Max plans with ‘4 Xtra benefits’.

Vodafone also offers Data Only plans for tablets, MiFi devices and dongles. These come with data but no minutes or texts and are available SIM-only on 1, 12 or 24-month contracts with up to unlimited data. You can also get them along with a tablet or other device on a 24-month (or in some cases 12-month) plan. 

Then there’s Pay As You Go, the details of which can be seen in the chart below.

Vodafone Pay As You Go Plans

 

Mobile Phones

Data Only

Plans Available

x

Add-ons available

-

Max Data Allowance

Unlimited

-

Data Rollover

Next month -

Add-on expiry 

30 days -

Top Up Expiry

180 days inactivity -

Tethering

-

EU Roaming

-

Note that tethering is included on Vodafone Pay As You Go, as are VeryMe Rewards, and any unused data rolls over to the next month - assuming you renew your bundle.

You can also just use Vodafone’s standard pay as you go rates, known as Pay As You Go 1. This charges you £1 on any day you use your phone for something chargeable. You’re then able to use unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 50MB of data for the rest of the day without paying anything more.

Vodafone Perks and Policies

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data only SIM

5G

Roaming

Tethering

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check

Entertainment

✔*

✔*

* selected plans only

5G

Vodafone offers 5G on many plans, including Pay Monthly ones with a handset, SIM Only, Data Only, and Pay As You Go. However, it doesn’t come as standard on all plans. Look out for the term ‘5G ready’ or ‘fastest available’ speeds when buying, otherwise you could be lumbered with slower speeds.

A prime example of that is Vodafone’s unlimited plans, with only the Unlimited Max ones offering true 5G speeds. This is slightly disappointing, especially from a major network. We’d argue 5G should be a standard feature by now, but at least it’s an option on just about every Vodafone plan type.

Roaming Destinations

Free roaming no longer comes as standard on Vodafone, but for customers on plans with ‘4 Xtra benefits’ the network offers inclusive roaming (up to a fair use limit of 25GB) at no extra cost in the following 51 locations:

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

However, if you have an Unlimited Max plan with ‘4 Xtra benefits’, you’ll be able to roam for free in all the above locations plus 32 more, for a total of 83.

The additional locations include: Albania, Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Jamaica, Kenya, Lesotho, Mexico, Montserrat, Mozambique, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, South Africa, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent, St Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey and Northern Cyprus, Turks and Caicos, and the US.

If you have a plan dating from before August 11th, 2021, then you may be able to roam for free in some or all of the above locations without having ‘Xtras’, depending on the terms of your plan.

If you’re only on a more basic plan or want to roam even further afield on Vodafone you can do so for £6 per day in 105 Roam Further locations, which include:

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cambodia, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Democratic Republic of, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Macau, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Russia, Saba, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey and Northern Cyprus, Turks and Caicos, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu and Vietnam.

Customers on basic plans can also roam for £2 per day in Europe, or for £1 per day if paying for 8 or 15 days upfront.

Note that Vodafone also lets customers roam at 5G speeds in select locations. At the time of writing that includes 240 towns and cities across Spain, Germany, Ireland, and Italy.

Tethering

Vodafone allows tethering as standard on all plans and allows you to use as much of your data allowance as you want for tethering, so your only limit is your monthly allowance, which can be as high as unlimited.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling means making calls over Wi-Fi. It’s a service Vodafone (and some other networks) offer which works seamlessly, so you can use your normal dialler and SMS apps to keep communicating when there’s no signal.

However, it’s not available on older Essentials plans (which are no longer sold). You also need a compatible device. Many recent handsets such as the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21 are compatible, but for a full list head here.

VoLTE

VoLTE or Voice over LTE is known as 4G Calling on Vodafone, and it refers to the ability to make calls over 4G.

This means you can make calls in more places than ever, as some areas have a 4G signal but no 3G or 2G. It can also allow for higher quality voice calls.

4G Calling comes as standard on Vodafone’s plans except for Essentials plans. You also need a compatible handset, but many recent ones are supported.

Data rollover

Vodafone doesn’t offer data rollover on any of its contracts, but you can get it on Pay As You Go. There, it will give you another 30 days to use any unused data rather than it expiring after a month – though you will of course need to buy another Pay As You Go bundle to be eligible for this.

Spending caps

Vodafone offers spending caps through what it calls a Spend Manager. This tool allows you to limit out-of-plan charges on things like premium rate calls and picture messages.

You can enable Spend Manager within the My Vodafone app, and you can set a level of spend that you’ll allow. Set it to £10 for example and you won’t be able to spend more than that per month on the out-of-plan charges that it covers. Note however that some costs aren’t covered by Spend Manager, so it’s worth double checking what you can still be charged for if this is a concern.

Unlimited data

Vodafone offers unlimited data on Pay Monthly, SIM Only, Data Only, and Pay As You Go plans, so whatever plan type you have you don’t need to worry about data limits if you opt for an unlimited data option.

Note however that some of its unlimited plans come with speed restrictions, so look out for that – we’ve detailed that more thoroughly under the ‘plans’ heading above.

Family plans

Vodafone offers what it calls an ‘Additional Plan’ service, which allows you to add additional plans to your account, with a 15% discount on each. So you can add friends or family members to your account and save them some money in the process (or just get multiple plans for yourself).

Up to nine additional plans can be added, for ten plans in total. Note that for Pay Monthly handset plans, the discount only applies to the airtime part of the plan (in other words the cost of your allowances), not the cost of the device itself.

Overall this is a middling family plan offering compared to other networks. O2 for example offers similar but with a 20% discount.

Credit checks

Like most networks, Vodafone will typically check your credit when you apply for any sort of contract. So if that’s a concern you’re best off sticking with Pay As You Go.

Unique perks

The main extra offered by Vodafone is subscription to an entertainment service on some plans. This isn’t free, but it is discounted. We’ve detailed this in full further up, but the options at the time of writing include YouTube Premium, Amazon Prime or Spotify Premium.

Beyond that, Vodafone also provides its VeryMe Rewards app, which offers discounts, freebies and competitions from a variety of brands. It’s a similar idea to O2 Priority and Three+.

Awards

RootMetrics has rated Vodafone as “the UK’s unbeatable network for reliability”, and the company has also been awarded Best Network for Business and 5G Innovation of the Year at the Mobile Industry Awards 2021.

Those are among its most recent awards, but the network has been no stranger to awards in the past either. That said, it’s arguably no better on this front than the other major networks.

Network

Network speeds

5G aside, for the most part Vodafone just uses standard 4G, which is around 5 times faster than a typical 3G network. However, it’s also rolled out LTE Advanced in select locations, which is typically 20 times faster than a standard 3G network.

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2021, and April 2020

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

44/9.7Mbps

36.0ms

Three

25.2/6.3Mbps

48.3ms

Vodafone

21.6/7.4Mbps

39.0ms

O2

17.1/5.4Mbps

38.1ms

According to Opensignal data from September 2021, Vodafone’s average download speed is 21.6Mbps, putting it behind EE and Three but ahead of O2. Its 7.4Mbps upload speed meanwhile is only behind EE.

Its average 4G latency (based on data from April 2020) is said to be 39.0ms. That’s the measure of how long the network takes to respond to a request, which is vital for things like online gaming, and Vodafone’s latency is better than Three’s but worse than EE's or O2’s.

Note that the latency figure is older because recent Opensignal reports don’t include latency. Also note that for speeds, the data uses a combination of all available signal types (so 5G, 4G and 3G).

As for 5G, Vodafone’s average download speed on that is 143.6Mbps according to September 2020 data from Point Topic, so that’s quite an upgrade. Its median download speed is similarly high at 159Mbps according to H1 2021 data from Ookla.

Network Frequencies

Vodafone 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

3400MHz

n78

5G

3600MHz

n77

5G

 

Vodafone uses the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands for 4G. These are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with one band’s strength being the other’s weakness. Specifically, the 800MHz band is long range and good at penetrating walls, making it useful in both rural locations (where there aren’t many masts) and more built-up areas.

But it doesn’t always have the capacity to deal with large numbers of connections, which the 2600MHz band does. The network also uses the 1400MHz band, which is something of a middle ground.

And for 5G it’s making use of the 3400MHz and 3600MHz bands, which are even higher frequency than the 2600MHz band. They’re short range and bad at passing through objects, but they can cope with lots of connections.

For more in depth information, check out our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Customer service

Customer service is one area where Vodafone may not excel, as according to a 2021 Ofcom service quality report, while 90% of customers were satisfied with their service, 16% had a reason to complain and just 55% were satisfied with the way their complaint was handled.

More damningly, 20 out of every 100,000 Vodafone customers went so far as to complain to Ofcom. That might not sound like many, but it’s more than any other network on test aside from Three and Virgin Mobile.

Conclusion

Vodafone is a well-rounded network, with high data limits, speedy 5G roaming abroad in many locations, and strong 4G coverage and speeds at home, along with growing domestic 5G coverage. Plus, if you spend enough, you can get extras thrown in, like entertainment packages.

It’s not quite the fastest network on 4G, nor the cheapest, and its 4G coverage likely isn’t quite the best, but it does a good job of balancing price with features.

Alternatives

If you’re looking for an alternative to Vodafone then you probably either want a network with the same coverage, or a similarly big and feature-packed network.

For the former, options include Virgin Mobile, Lebara, Asda Mobile, and Talkmobile, all of which use Vodafone’s infrastructure and spectrum, so their coverage is identical. Although saying that, Talkmobile doesn’t currently offer 5G, despite being owned by Vodafone.

That aside these are all positioned as fairly affordable alternatives to the big networks, albeit typically with fewer plan options and perks. Lebara additionally stands out through free international calls on its plans, while Virgin Mobile has handy extras like data rollover.

If however you want a big, feature-packed network, then the alternatives really are Three, EE or O2, as they’re the only other UK operators with their own network infrastructure. Like Vodafone, they offer a wide range of plans and extra perks, but their coverage differs, so check they have it where you need it before picking one of them.

Mobile Networks

Sim Deals

SIM Card Triple SIM
4 GB Data UNLIMITED Minutes UNLIMITED Texts £5.00 a month View Deal
SIM Card Triple SIM
4 GB Data Unlimited Minutes Unlimited Texts £6.00 a month View Deal
View More
Sign up for our newsletter.