How to check coverage without signing up to a new plan?

ripplyuk
ripplyuk Posts: 2,888 Forumite
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I’ve just read that Plusnet mobile are closing down so I need to move. I live in a rural area and coverage is patchy, despite the online coverage checkers saying it’s ‘Excellent indoors and out’ 🙄. EE’s network works reasonably well. Vodafone and O2 are awful. The only one I haven’t tried is Three. 

Is there any way to try this? Years ago, I could just buy a sim at any local shop, put it in the phone and see what the signal is like. These days it seems I would have to sign up to a monthly plan and port my number. This would be a disaster if it doesn’t get a signal and I’m left without a phone until I can switch again. 
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Comments

  • MSE_Laura_F
    MSE_Laura_F Posts: 1,570 MSE Staff
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    edited 24 May 2023 at 9:15AM
    Hello @ripplyuk, MSE has this Mobile phone coverage checker tool. It's not perfect and should be taken with a pinch of salt, but will give you an idea.

    But to actually order some sims, what about ordering from these Best Sims for occasional/backup use options? You could try them out without having to transfer your existing number.
  • flaneurs_lobster
    flaneurs_lobster Posts: 3,587 Forumite
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    You can get a free Three PAYG from their website

    https://www.three.co.uk/Support/Free_SIM/Order

    Don't know if these days you have to register the thing or if you can just add credit before it is activated, min top-up on my 3 PAYGs is £2.
  • ProDave
    ProDave Posts: 3,721 Forumite
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    It is a much more complex subject that you think.  I went through several sims with different providers before stumbling on the answer.

    So you know you get a signal on the EE network more so that vodafone and O2.  So you want to stick to a provider that uses the EE network.

    So I suggest you buy a PAYG sim from 1PMobile.  They use the FULL EE network. (plusnet only use some of the EE network bands, I found this out previously when I got no signal at all from plusnet)  You might even be pleasantly surprised and find you get a better signal from 1Pmobile than you did from plusnet.

    When I dug deeper is is all to do with wifi calling and VOLTE.   Plusnet don't offer these.  EE themselves do and 1PMobile as far as I know is the only other EE provider that does, though RWG is one that says they will soon.

    Why does this matter?  Well on the EE network they use a separate band of frequencies for the VOLTE service, and a SIM like Plusnet that does not offer this does not have access to that band.  And as I found out, here in the countryside is is that band they use for VOLTE that is the only one I can receive at home.  So no VOLTE service, no signal at all for me.

    And of course if you have the VOLTE and wifi functions enabled when at home your phone can mane and receive calls using wifi and your home broadband regardless of how good the mobile signal actually is.

    You can get a 1PMobile PAYG sim for £10 that comes with £10 of pay as you go credit.  If that works then you have a choice or PAYG or pay monthly options and you can port your number to them, but don't port your number until you are sure it works.

    Of course you can go direct to EE but I doubt you will get anything as cheap unless you are better at haggling on the phone than most people.
  • Peppa537
    Peppa537 Posts: 235 Forumite
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    ProDave said:
    It is a much more complex subject that you think.  I went through several sims with different providers before stumbling on the answer.

    So you know you get a signal on the EE network more so that vodafone and O2.  So you want to stick to a provider that uses the EE network.

    So I suggest you buy a PAYG sim from 1PMobile.  They use the FULL EE network. (plusnet only use some of the EE network bands, I found this out previously when I got no signal at all from plusnet)  You might even be pleasantly surprised and find you get a better signal from 1Pmobile than you did from plusnet.

    When I dug deeper is is all to do with wifi calling and VOLTE.   Plusnet don't offer these.  EE themselves do and 1PMobile as far as I know is the only other EE provider that does, though RWG is one that says they will soon.

    Why does this matter?  Well on the EE network they use a separate band of frequencies for the VOLTE service, and a SIM like Plusnet that does not offer this does not have access to that band.  And as I found out, here in the countryside is is that band they use for VOLTE that is the only one I can receive at home.  So no VOLTE service, no signal at all for me.

    And of course if you have the VOLTE and wifi functions enabled when at home your phone can mane and receive calls using wifi and your home broadband regardless of how good the mobile signal actually is.

    You can get a 1PMobile PAYG sim for £10 that comes with £10 of pay as you go credit.  If that works then you have a choice or PAYG or pay monthly options and you can port your number to them, but don't port your number until you are sure it works.

    Of course you can go direct to EE but I doubt you will get anything as cheap unless you are better at haggling on the phone than most people.
    I'm with Sky mobile but ordered a 1p Mobile £10 payg SIM last week to try out the EE network as I've always been on one of the O2 providers. Easy to do, SIM came next day and I'm impressed with their website. I have a dual SIM phone so have both my SIMs in for now. Just need to try it out in the town (it's ok at home and at work). I highly recommend them and their boost sims (unlimited calls, texts and an amount of data for you to choose from) are 30 day ones so not tied in on a contract. If you go direct to EE you're tied in and get the April price increase. 
  • tinker411
    tinker411 Posts: 112 Forumite
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    edited 24 May 2023 at 4:01PM
    ripplyuk said:
    I’ve just read that Plusnet mobile are closing down so I need to move. I live in a rural area and coverage is patchy, despite the online coverage checkers saying it’s ‘Excellent indoors and out’ 🙄. EE’s network works reasonably well. Vodafone and O2 are awful. The only one I haven’t tried is Three. 

    Is there any way to try this? Years ago, I could just buy a sim at any local shop, put it in the phone and see what the signal is like. These days it seems I would have to sign up to a monthly plan and port my number. This would be a disaster if it doesn’t get a signal and I’m left without a phone until I can switch again. 
    Looks like Ofcom have updated their own online coverage checker (at least since I last looked at it) so may be worth a look? https://checker.ofcom.org.uk/en-gb/mobile-coverage from local knowledge it seems quite forgiving towards Vodafone but not so much to the other networks.

    If EE's network works reasonably well for you though then as suggested above you may be just as well staying on EE and going with a provider that runs on their network - 1p Mobile and RWG are the usual names that pop up on here, with the former supporting Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling so your EE signal may (in theory) even improve with them. You can avoid EE's yearly price hikes with these two also.

  • ripplyuk
    ripplyuk Posts: 2,888 Forumite
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    @ProDave Have you ever tried 1p mobile’s customer service? I’ve been trying to get through all day with no success. I don’t like not being able to contact a real person. I didn’t know any of that about the separate frequencies and VOLTE but now that I do, I’d be keen to try it out to see if there’s any improvement in the signal. Their trustpilot reviews are good, which is rare for a mobile network, and I’m sure their online support is fine for most things but I’m wary about not being able to speak to someone in case of any complicated issues. 

    I would really prefer not to go with EE and there doesn’t seem to be any others piggybacking. 
  • Murmansk
    Murmansk Posts: 929 Forumite
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    My understanding is that 1pMobile are very busy on the phone but answer emails quite efficiently and it's certainly been my experience . I've not tried their online chat. Overall I rate them highly
  • ripplyuk
    ripplyuk Posts: 2,888 Forumite
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    Murmansk said:
    My understanding is that 1pMobile are very busy on the phone but answer emails quite efficiently and it's certainly been my experience . I've not tried their online chat. Overall I rate them highly
    Their online chat wouldn’t work when I tried it. It said no one was available. 

    I’ll probably go with them anyway since there isn’t much choice. It’s either them or EE, which will be much more expensive and they also charge extra for roaming. 
  • tinker411
    tinker411 Posts: 112 Forumite
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    edited 25 May 2023 at 1:58AM
    ripplyuk said:
    @ProDave Have you ever tried 1p mobile’s customer service? I’ve been trying to get through all day with no success. I don’t like not being able to contact a real person. I didn’t know any of that about the separate frequencies and VOLTE but now that I do, I’d be keen to try it out to see if there’s any improvement in the signal. Their trustpilot reviews are good, which is rare for a mobile network, and I’m sure their online support is fine for most things but I’m wary about not being able to speak to someone in case of any complicated issues. 

    I would really prefer not to go with EE and there doesn’t seem to be any others piggybacking. 

    I'm not ProDave but do have a 1p mobile sim - my experience of their customer service; haven't rung them (I've heard all sorts about long call waiting times) but have used Live Chat several times (when logged in) and, while slightly odd, it's been absolutely fine and answered/resolved any queries I've had. The self service tools in My Account on their website are second to none though, so should negate many calls to customer service that might otherwise be made should you sign up.
    RWG also runs on EE https://www.rwgmobile.wales/rates-plans-eng-per/ if you (like me) would prefer to avoid EE direct. However, RWG don't (as yet) have 4G Calling or Wi-Fi Calling but do have 5G.

  • savergrant
    savergrant Posts: 1,072 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I suspect that for the op rwg/nowmobile service would be pretty similar to the current plusnet service in terms of signal strength and functionality.
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