There are currently three main mobile phone networks in the UK that have released 4G SIM only plans, these are EE, O2 and Vodafone – the Three network plan to have their 4G offering released by December of 2013 although they currently have an HSPA+ service which has been nicknames 3.5G which is almost as fast as the main 4G plans.
EE has the most comprehensive 4G coverage available with 160 cities and towns covered by a 4G signal, whilst O2 and Vodafone have a lower coverage area at present but that is because they have only recently launched their 4G services. Both O2 and Vodafone plan to have a 4G signal in 12 to 13 large cities by the end of 2013.
One important point to note is that if you do not currently have a 4G signal in your area but you have a 4G contract you will still be able to connect to the 2G or 3G network as normal and when 4G arrives in your location you will be able to get blazing fast data transfer speeds immediately.
Best 4G SIM only plans
There are relatively few 4G SIM contracts available at the moment and the contracts that are available are all 12 month minimum contracts apart from on EE. Although the number of choices are set to increase as the 4G coverage is rolled out across the country.
If you are unsure about taking out a 4G contract the O2 network offer a “Happiness Guarantee” as part of a new contract. This means if you are unhappy with the 4G contract within the first 90 days you will be able to change to a different 3G contract and also receive a £15 credit to your bill as a gesture of goodwill so there is little risk in taking out an O2 4G contract as you have the option to change.
The current best 4G SIM deals on offer are detailed in our comparison table below –
|Network Operator||Package Name||Contract Duration||Included Minutes||Included Texts||Added Extras||Monthly Cost||More Info|
|2GB EE SIM Only||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||2GB of upto 60Mbps 4G data + 3 months free BT Sport app access||£17.99||see deal|
|O2 Simplicity £20.00||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||10GB of 4G data + free O2 WiFi||£20.00||see deal|
|Three Advanced Plan SIM £15||12 months||600||unlimited||Free 8GB of 4G data + Personal Hotspot||£15.00||see deal|
|Three Advanced Plan SIM £20||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||Free 8GB of 4G data + Personal Hotspot||£20.00||see deal|
|5GB EE SIM Only||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||5GB of upto 60Mbps 4G data + 3 months free BT Sport app access + 500MB EU data||£21.99||see deal|
|O2 Simplicity £25.00||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||20GB of 4G data + free O2 WiFi||£25.00||see deal|
|Vodafone SIM Only 20GB Plan||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||20GB of 4G data free + 2GB free roaming data||£20.00||see deal|
|Vodafone SIM Only 8GB Plan||12 months||unlimited||unlimited||8GB of 4G data free + 500Mb free roaming data||£17.00||see deal|
4G Coverage Checkers by Network
If you are unsure whether your area is covered by a 4G signal at the moment you can use the various mobile network online coverage checkers. You can enter your postcode into the online service to get pinpoint coverage accuracy.
They include –
4G SIM only FAQ’s
Here are a list of the most common question and answers associated with the new 4G technology.
What is 4G?
4G (or 4GEE in the case of EE) is a fourth generation data network that will provide data transfer to your mobile device up to 10 times faster than the speeds you are used to receiving from its 3G predecessor. You may also hear 4G referred to as LTE which means Long Term Evolution and is the technical type of 4G protocol that is typically used in the UK.
Which mobile networks currently offer 4G contracts?
The first network to offer 4G was the EE network which is a phone network that comprises of a combination of Orange and T-Mobile. August 2013 saw the launch of 4G on the O2 and Vodafone networks. The Three network is due to follow in December although they already have a fast data network protocol in HSPA+ which can have data transfer speeds that are equivalent to 4G already.
Will my phone work on 4G?
Many of the newest high end smartphones will run 4G straight out of the box as well as some of the older smartphones. Each network will support different phones on their 4G service so go to the respective mobile network pages and see what phones are supported –
Will I get better phone reception using 4G?
The 4G signal is used to transfer data it is not used to carry call data so it will not affect the call quality or signal quality. It should however increase the reliability and speeds of any services you use that rely on data transfer so that could mean streaming media over the Internet such as watching videos, TV, music and films should be a better experience because there should be fewer or no interruptions in the streaming at all.
What sort of speeds should I expect from 4G?
The speed that you will be able to download or stream data will depend on how far away you are from the signal mast and how many people are using the network at the same time so typically speeds over 4G should be between 4 and 10 times faster than 3G data speeds.
What happens if I can’t get a 4G signal in my area?
If there is no 4G signal in your area you could wait until 4G becomes available and then buy a 4G SIM only contract or alternatively if you can’t wait and want to get a 4G capable contract immediately you should do so in the knowledge that your phone will automatically connect to a 4G network whenever it is in range. As you move around your phone will automatically switch from 3G to 4G when it detects a 4G signal on your chosen network.
When will 4G come to my area?
If you do not currently have a 4G signal in your area check back on our $G pages regularly to see the latest cities and towns that have had 4G services rolled out.