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UK Internet can take many weeks to switch on, so the ideal interim measure is to use a Personal hotspot on a mobile phone. Easy?! I think not.

After moving a few times in the last year and now paying for my own mobile phone, this is what I now do:

Buy 4 SIM card for the 4 mobile networks at the supermarket for 99p each. Then test the actual coverage from my new house.

Mobile Phone Networks

There are 4 physical phone networks in the UK. Others such as Tesco piggyback.

  • EE (which are ex Orange, T-Mobile and Hutchison 3G)
  • Three
  • O2
  • Vodaphone


For me it didn’t matter. All the areas I’ve lived in have had marginal coverage, so I bought the best plan available for that network.

Three offer unlimited (1TB) are very exciting especially if you can get 5G.

Tethering (personal hotspot)

I mistakenly thought using some old phones would be a good idea. They didn’t get as good a signal as my new(ish) iPhone7. So the moral of the story is to use a new phone!

Boosting the signal

The ultimate campervan setup has an interesting link on putting in a signal booster for 4G coverage for data. This looks very interesting. looks like a good start for boosting a signal. on the mobile phone gives a good idea of speed

OpenSignal provide independent maps and data on signal coverage.

WiFi Calling

Update 19th June 2020 - As the signal in my house seems to be getting worse (perhaps on rainy days), I’m giving WiFi calling a shot on Three as they are the only ones to offer it on a pay as you go contract.

The process has not been painless and transferring my old number has not worked, so have tried the form again and will see. Even downloading the app onto my phone I couldn’t do a live chat to them (the app kept crashing). I tried calling their helpline on 333 over WiFi calling which seemed to work well (there is hope!). But couldn’t seem to get anyone to answer.

Three live chat and contact us looks like it is not as good as usual due to Covid-19.


Chatting to friends in the know there are some opinions (for the SE of England anyway)

  • O2 is a good network but EE better in some locations
  • No love for Three (coverage lacking, and hesitancy about ability to keep providing unlimited)
  • O2 data is expensive ie £30 for 100GB (but probably get good reliability)