Giffgaff 5G coverage and roll-out

Giffgaff 5G is available in all the same places as O2, meaning at least 194 UK towns and cities at the time of writing. And as O2’s 5G coverage increases, Giffgaff’s will too.

Giffgaff launched its 5G service on October 20, 2020, which is almost exactly a year after O2 did, and while it has 5G coverage in a lot of places, you should be aware that this coverage is often patchy – but that’s the case with every network at the moment.

Below we’ve taken a closer look at Giffgaff’s 5G service, including the key places it’s available and how its coverage compares to other networks.

Giffgaff 5G summary

Giffgaff 5G summary chart

Giffgaff 5G coverage

194 UK towns & cities

Coverage checker

Check Giffgaff coverage

Network speeds (average download speeds)

5G – 115.7Mbps (Point Topic tests of O2)

4G – 18.2Mbps  (Opensignal tests of O2)

Giffgaff 4G and 3G coverage

99% population coverage

5G phones

N/A

5G home broadband

N/A

5G SIM only

5G SIM only on Giffgaff

How does Giffgaff's 5G coverage compare to others?

There are 120 major towns and cities in the UK that we track the availability of 5G coverage in and compare the networks for. At the time of writing each network stacks up as follows:

  • O2 (and therefore Giffgaff) has launched 5G in 75 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Three has launched 5G in 82 of the 120 locations below. 
  • EE has launched 5G in 75 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Vodafone has launched 5G in 44 of the 120 locations below. 

The chart below lists the locations in full, with a tick against them meaning a network has some coverage there. However, in many cases it won’t be complete coverage, so it’s worth using a network’s official coverage checker to see how patchy it is. Sometimes 5G coverage will also differ indoors and outside. That said, every network is improving its 5G coverage rapidly.

Town/City

EE

+BT

Vodafone

+ASDA +VOXI +Virgin +Lebara

Three

+ iD Mobile

O2

+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff

Aberdeen

Bath

Birmingham

Blackburn

Blackpool

Bolton

Bournemouth

Bradford

Brighton

Bristol

Bromley

Cambridge

Canterbury

Cardiff

Carlisle

Central London

Chelmsford

Chester

Cleveland

Colchester

Coventry

Crewe

Croydon

Darlington

Dartford

Derby

Doncaster

Dorchester

Dudley

Dumfries and Galloway

Dundee

Durham

East London

Edinburgh

Enfield

Exeter

Falkirk and Stirling

Galashiels

Glasgow

Gloucester

Guildford

Halifax

Harrogate

Harrow

Hemel Hempstead

Hereford

Huddersfield

Hull

Ilford

Inverness

Ipswich

Kilmarnock

Kingston upon Thames

Kirkcaldy

Kirkwall

Lancaster

Leeds

Leicester

Lerwick

Lincoln

Liverpool

Llandrindod Wells

Llandudno

Luton

Manchester

Milton Keynes

Motherwell

Newcastle upon Tyne

Newport

North London

North West London

Northampton

Northern Ireland

Norwich

Nottingham

Oldham

Outer Hebrides

Oxford

Paisley

Perth

Peterborough

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Preston

Reading

Redhill

Rochester

Romford

Salisbury

Sheffield

Shrewsbury

Slough

South East London

South West London

Southall

Southampton

Southend-on-Sea

St Albans

Stevenage

Stockport

Stoke-on-Trent

Sunderland

Sutton

Swansea

Swindon

Taunton

Telford

Tonbridge

Torquay

Truro

Twickenham

Wakefield

Walsall

Warrington

Watford

West London

Wigan

Wolverhampton

Worcester

York

Latest locations to get Giffgaff 5G

Giffgaff relies on O2 for its 5G coverage, and the latest places to get O2 5G (as of July 2021) include Allesley, Altrincham, Birstall, Banbury, Burton upon Trent, Calverley, Cheadle, Chertsey, Chilworth, Danderhall, Grimsby, Guildford, Horwich, Joyden's Wood, Kemprow, Kettering, Maidenhead, Molesey, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Oldham, Penarth, Plympton, Richings Park, Royal Leamington Spa, Shelf, Shinfield, Shirehampton, St Albans, Stapleford, Stockton-on-Tees, Tatling End, Thornaby-on-Tees, Thorpe, Trumps Green, Virginia Water, Wallasey, Waltham Abbey, Wickersley, and Wythenshawe.

Giffgaff coverage checker

You can use Giffgaff’s online coverage checker to see 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G coverage. Just type in your postcode or town to see details of coverage both indoors and out.

Many places still don’t have Giffgaff 5G coverage yet, so you should check your home, work, and anywhere else you’re likely to need 5G before buying a 5G phone or 5G SIM Only plan.

CHECK Giffgaff 5G coverage

4G coverage

Giffgaff of course also offers 4G, 3G and 2G coverage, and at the time of writing this will be a lot more widespread than 5G.

Giffgaff (through O2’s infrastructure and spectrum) has roughly 99% population coverage with 4G, 3G, and 2G, all of which is broadly in line with rivals, as you can see below.

Network

4G population coverage

EE

(+BT)

>99%

Check Coverage

Three

(+iD Mobile)

99.8%

 Check Coverage

Vodafone

(+VOXI +Virgin Mobile +ASDA)

99% 

Check Coverage

O2

(+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff)

99% 

Check Coverage

5G roaming abroad

Only Vodafone and VOXI offer 5G roaming at the time of writing, but Giffgaff lets customers roam for free at slower speeds in many European destinations.

5G network speeds

O2’s average 5G download speed

O2’s median 5G download speed

O2’s max 5G download speed

115.7Mbps (Point Topic)

193/103/176.9Mbps (RootMetrics/Point Topic/Speedtest)

302.1Mbps (RootMetrics)

We don’t have much information about Giffgaff’s 5G speeds yet, but the network has said you should be able to download an hour-long TV episode in around 17 seconds on average, or potentially as little as three seconds if you’re right by a mast.

Beyond that, we can look at data on O2’s speeds to get an idea, given that Giffgaff uses O2’s network. On that front, a September 2020 report from Point Topic recorded O2’s maximum 5G download speed as being 247Mbps, with its average being 115.7Mbps, and its median being 103Mbps.

We also have O2 data from RootMetrics for the first half of 2021, which found O2’s highest recorded median speed was 193Mbps. During this period RootMetrics additionally recorded a peak ‘everyday 5G’ speed of 179.3Mbps. This speed was achieved using a mix of just 5G and a combination of 5G and 4G for the same data activity, to better reflect real world experiences. There’s also RootMetrics data from the second half of 2020, where it recorded a top 5G download speed of 302.1Mbps for O2.

Speedtest meanwhile in a study from Q3 2020 found that O2’s median 5G download speed was 176.9Mbps.

While those speeds are variable, they’re all a big upgrade on 4G, which averages 18.2Mbps on O2 according to an October 2020 Opensignal report.

Latency

Latency is how long a mobile network takes to respond to a request before it starts transferring data. So even with high speeds, if latency is also high it can make some things feel slow, even though it’s measured in milliseconds (ms).

Giffgaff hasn’t said anything about its 5G latency, but according to late 2019 data from Ookla, 5G latency on UK networks averages roughly 21-26ms. It’s been said though that eventually 5G could offer latency as low as 1ms. For reference, 4G latency tends to be around 30-50ms.

Giffgaff’s 5G frequency allocation

Frequency

Network type

3.6GHz (3600MHz)

5G

3.4GHz (3400MHz)

5G

2.3GHz (2300MHz)

4G

2.1GHz (2100MHz)

3G and 4G

1.8GHz (1800MHz)

2G and 4G

900MHz

2G and 3G

800MHz

4G

700MHz

4G and 5G

All mobile signals travel on frequencies, and for 5G it’s typically high frequencies that are used – as you can see in the chart above, Giffgaff uses the 3.4GHz band and the 3.6GHz band, both of which are higher than any it uses for 3G or 4G.

One reason for using higher frequency spectrum is that it’s available in greater capacities, which can help deal with lots of connections and big data demands – two things which are vital for a 5G network. The lower frequencies though can travel further and penetrate obstacles better.

Those advantages mean that Giffgaff (through O2) might also use some 700MHz spectrum for 5G, though at the time of writing this was only recently acquired at the second 5G spectrum auction, and it’s not currently clear what these networks will use it for.

Giffgaff through O2 has access to 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum and 40MHz of 3.6GHz spectrum at the time of writing, so that’s 80MHz in total, which is the same amount as EE but a little less than Vodafone’s 90MHz and much less than Three’s 140MHz. More is of course better in terms of network capacity.

That said, O2 has arranged (pending Ofcom approval) to trade some of its spectrum with Vodafone, which won’t increase its holdings but will give it an 80MHz contiguous block, which helps deliver better network performance.

The 5G spectrum totals above don’t include the 700MHz spectrum since that may or may not end up being used for 5G, but if you factor that in then Giffgaff/O2 has 100MHz, EE has 120MHz, Three has 160MHz, and Vodafone still has 90MHz.

However, there may eventually be more spectrum auctioned off, so these totals could change.

Networks that have launched 5G in the UK

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