Ensuring your staff are connected can be business critical nowadays, especially given how many people operate remotely. It’s therefore key that the service provider you choose meets your requirements to avoid unnecessary downtime.
Whether you’re looking for lots of data, minutes or texts, it’s important that a network provider can service your needs at a competitive cost. However, according to the chairman of the national infrastructure commission, Lord Adonis, mobile phone coverage in the UK is "deplorable” 4G as broadband speeds continue to lag behind the USA, the Netherlands and Japan.
There are currently four companies that hold a licence to build and maintain their own mobile network infrastructure in the UK, of which three predominantly operate in the business market; EE, O2 and Vodafone. Even though they are putting up more and more masts around the country, there are still some areas where signal is a little patchy.
So, we’ve had a look and the coverage and quality they provide, rounding up the key stats for each.
EE: The 4G heavyweight
EE has built its brand on having an impressive coverage comprising of the old T-Mobile and Orange frequencies. The provider therefore has a wide coverage overall with very few blackspots - ideal if you have an agile workforce. With average speeds of 60Mbps across most major cities and 150Mbps in London, it’s a key player where 4G is concerned.
No other network can offer 4G speeds close to what EE provides. Businesses that have staff tethering their mobile connections to their laptops will find that EE is the obvious choice and best backup for when they cannot find a free Wi-Fi connection.
- 4G 99% coverage by population
- 3G 98% coverage by population
- 4G is expected to cover 95% of the UK landmass by 2020.
- 2G 99% coverage by population
O2: The people’s champion
The trusted brand has been serving UK businesses since 2002 and has a reputation for great customer service. O2 offers flexible monthly tariffs and plenty of extras such as O2 priority and Wi-Fi hotspots in shops and cafes throughout the country. Although it doesn’t quite match up to EE’s 4G capabilities yet, it’s well on the way.
However, O2 save its biggest benefits for consumers rather than businesses with its network's Priority rewards program. Flexibility, very good network coverage, customer service and free Wi-Fi will be the obvious attraction for most businesses.
- 4G 97% coverage by population
- 3G 98% coverage by population
- Average 4G speeds 12.06 - 18.48 mbps.
- 2G covers 99% of the population
Vodafone: The All-Rounder
Vodafone has suffered some slack in recent years because of poor customer service which was widely covered in the media. However, the brand are turning this around and making every effort to improve. Frequent business flyers will also be happy that Vodafone lets you use your data, calls and texts allowances in 50 countries around the world without charge.
Similarly to O2, Vodafone also focusses heavily consumer features with NOW TV Entertainment Pass, Spotify Premium or Sky Sports Mobile subscriptions, but such offers will leave many businesses cold for obvious reasons.
Although EE is the best provider of mobile coverage across the UK. If you’re in Wales or England, Vodafone is a good option that has proudly set out its stall as an all-rounder.
- 95% 4G coverage by population
- 96% 3G coverage by population
- 3rd for the average fastest 4G speeds and availability
- 2G covers 98% of population
It really does depend on your business needs. All three of the major players in the business space are staying competitive, offering wider coverage, quicker speeds and attractive packages. Choosing will depend on budget and the way your staff operate. You should also take into account how well each network performs in your area, here’s a location checker which should give you a good idea.
How many of your employees frequently travel abroad or tether to their iPads and laptops are also an important factor in choosing the right network for your business. Understanding how much data your company consumes, who your heavy data uses are and why is possibly more important than call packages.
If you’d like more advice on choosing the right network for your business, then get in touch and we’ll happily talk through the options.