Mobile Virtual Network Operators – MVNOs in UK

mvnos in uk
mvnos in uk

Ever wondered how some mobile networks offer great deals and flexibility without having their own network infrastructure? That’s where mobile virtual network operators MVNOs come in! Before diving into the world of MVNOs, let’s start by understanding what a virtual network is. Think of it as a captivating digital realm where the possibilities are endless!

A virtual network is a concept that brings together the power of technology and connectivity. It allows companies to create their own network services without physically owning the infrastructure. It’s like building your own virtual kingdom within the vast digital landscape. With a virtual network, businesses can offer unique services, cater to specific customer needs, and deliver a personalized experience. 

What is an MVNO?

They are the smart trailblazers who offer mobile services using existing network infrastructure owned by the main operators. Think of them as cool and creative individuals who have their own plans, prices, and ways of treating users. From low-cost options to niche-specific solutions, MVNOs add diversity and creativity to the mobile world, providing you more options and the freedom to choose a plan that fits your style and budget!

There are many reseller networks in the UK that buy minutes from the four main mobile network operators (MNOs) and resell them directly to consumers. Here we look at what frequency ranges they each have, from the old standard but reliable 2G voice to the latest 5G being rolled out across the UK.

We breakdown the 

  • Frequency bands 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G each have access.
  • The actual network behind the reseller

The main new MVNOs in the UK are gaining market share by offering lower prices and more flexible contracts. They use the main players networks, being partners with Vodafone, O2, EE, or Three.

The main networks continue to manage the network and be responsible for the call quality, but they do restrict the range of frequencies they make available. This often means their own customers enjoy better coverage, especially across 4G and 5G.

How do MVNOs Work?

  • MVNOs are the cool middlemen of the mobile industry, leveraging existing network infrastructure owned by large carriers.
  • They bring their own plans, rates, and customer service, providing you with a wide range of possibilities to pick from.
  • MVNOs do not have their own network towers, therefore they depend on giants’ enchanting spells to supply their services.
  • They provide customised plans to meet your specific demands and budget, allowing you to customise your mobile experience.
  • MVNOs are cost-effective, allowing you to save valuable gold coins while still receiving high-quality mobile services.
  • MVNOs put the consumer first, giving unique offers and personalised support to make you feel like a valued mobile advisor.
  • They provide you the opportunity to select the best mobile plan that fits your style, preferences, and usage habits.
  • MVNOs provide reliable connectivity by utilising the networks of major carriers to provide a seamless mobile experience.

Top list of (MVNOs) mobile virtual network operators in the UK market

  1. ASDA
  2. BT
  3. ID Mobile
  4. VOXI
  5. Virgin Mobile
  6. Tesco Mobile
  7. GiffGaff
  8. Lycra Mobile
  9. Freedom Pop

Here is a list of the network frequencies that each network is leasing to the MVNOs. This gives an idea of the resellers with the best access to the network. If you are choosing a mobile minutes reseller, be careful not to just look at the price but also at the quality of the network made available.

The reasons people choose to buy from MVNO UK are:

  • Lower price per minute
  • May have better network coverage in your area
  • Cheaper sim only card options
  • No contracts or 30 day cancel options are common
  • Bad credit ratings with the established networks
  • Some like The Peoples Operator network make donations to good causes 

The main UK MNO’s networks are still the dominant players with the largest market share and it could be argued best customer services and benefits like free concert tickets by Three. EE are the largest reseller to the smaller MVNO’s, followed by Vodafone, O2 and then Three in that order.

Full list of UK mobile network resellers, MVNOs and the main network being used 

1p MobileEE
Age UK My PhoneVodafone
Airwave Smart MobileEE
Asda MobileEE
Axis TelecomEE
BT MobileEE
CT ExcelBizEE
Delight MobileEE
Dialog VizVodafone
Digital PhoneEE
Econet MobileEE
Family MobileEE
Go MobileEE
iD MobileThree
Lebara MobileVodafone
Lomo MobileEE
Lyca MobileO2
Matrix CellularEE
Now PaygEE
Plusnet MobileEE
Simple Call MobileEE
Talk Home MobileEE
TalkTalk MobileVodafone
Tesco MobileO2
The People’s OperatorThree
The Phone Co-OpEE
Telecom PlusEE
Vectone MobileEE
Virgin MobileEE

The frequency was auctioned by Ofcom to raise funds for the Treasury, and the networks each own a specific band of the wavelength. I outline below the network bands for ease of reference.

MVNOs: Pros and Cons

Pros of MVNOs:

  1. Budget-friendly magic: MVNOs often offer more affordable plans, saving you some gold coins.
  2. Flexibility galore: Enjoy tailored plans that suit your specific needs and usage patterns.
  3. Diverse options: MVNOs provide a range of unique offerings and plans, giving you more choices.
  4. No network sacrifices: Leverage the existing network infrastructure of major carriers for reliable connectivity.
  5. Personalized customer service: Experience a customer-centric approach with personalized support.

Cons of MVNOs:

  1. Coverage limitations: MVNOs may have coverage limitations in certain areas compared to major carriers.
  2. Network prioritization: During times of network congestion, MVNOs may have lower priority access.
  3. Limited device options: Not all devices are compatible with MVNO networks, so device selection may be limited.
  4. Potential data deprioritization: In some cases, MVNO users may experience slower data speeds during peak times.
  5. Varying customer support quality: Customer support experiences may vary across different MVNOs.

Remember, MVNOs offer cost-effective plans, flexibility, and unique choices, but they may have some limitations when it comes to coverage and network prioritization. Consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding if an MVNO is the right fit for you!

Choosing a reseller like Tesco Mobile can be a great choice for budget-conscious consumers; just be sure to check if they have access to bands like 5G if that’s important, as well as being sure you get the price and have network coverage inside your home and office. If there is no coverage in the office, be sure to get a commercial-grade office booster from MSS installed for perfect coverage inside and out!

FAQs for Mobile Virtual Network Operators(MVNOs)

How many mobile network operators are there in the UK?

There are four main mobile network operators in the UK. These are:

  • Vodafone UK
  • EE 
  • O2 
  • Three 

Most people in the UK get their mobile service from one of these four operators. However, in addition to these core network operators, there are also a number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) that run on their networks. MVNOs have their own plans, prices, and customer experiences so they can meet the needs and preferences of each customer.

Can I transfer my current phone number to an MVNO?

In most circumstances, you can easily switch to an MVNO while keeping your current phone number. They’ve established procedures to ensure a trouble-free transition.

Will my mobile device be able to work with an MVNO?

Yes, ocousres, Most mobile devices are compatible with MVNOs. You will be able to use your smartphone as long as it is compatible with the MVNO’s network.

Are MVNO plans less expensive than traditional carrier plans?

Yes, MVNOs have a reputation for providing affordable plans. As virtual operators, they are able to operate with minimal overhead expenses and pass the savings forward to their clients.

Can I use my MVNO plan while traveling abroad?

It depends on the specific MVNO and their roaming policies. Some MVNOs offer international roaming options, while others may have limitations. It’s best to check with the MVNO regarding their roaming services.

What customer support can I expect from an MVNO?

MVNOs prioritize customer satisfaction and typically offer dedicated support channels, including phone, email, and online chat. They strive to provide personalized assistance to address any queries or concerns.

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