There are many different 5G networks in the UK, but when it comes down to coverage there are only really four different ones – there’s EE, Three, Vodafone, and O2, with all the other mobile networks using the infrastructure and coverage from one of those four.
Because these networks don’t have their own infrastructure they’re known in the industry as MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators), and with most UK networks falling into this category, that makes it relatively straightforward to round down which networks appeal based on coverage.
So, what if you’ve decided you want EE’s 5G coverage but not to necessarily be on EE itself? Well, there are a few other options, which we’ve detailed below.
You’ll also find information on the 4G networks using EE’s infrastructure, and insight into whether an EE MVNO is a better choice than EE itself.
5G networks using EE’s infrastructure
At the time of writing, few mobile networks both use EE’s infrastructure and offer 5G, but you’ll find details of the current options below.
BT Mobile and EE both have the same parent company, so it’s no wonder they share mobile coverage. That also means that BT Mobile is no small-scale operation – it has the full might of BT and EE behind it.
That said, it’s not really an option for most people these days, because at the time of writing BT Mobile isn’t offering plans to new customers. Existing customers can keep using it for now, and even add extra SIMs to their account, but everyone else is directed to EE itself.
In other words then, you can only use BT Mobile if you’re already using it, but for those lucky people there are some perks, such as free access to the BT Sport app on select plans, and access to 5 million BT Wi-Fi hotspots.
Things like Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling are also included, so BT Mobile has almost as many perks and premium features as the big four networks.
Lyca Mobile stands out among other EE MVNOs by including minutes to international destinations with many of its plans. So if you find yourself calling abroad frequently then this is likely to be one of the best networks for you – and the very best with EE’s coverage.
Beyond that, you can get unlimited data, there’s 5G of course, and its plans are reasonably priced, though not among the very cheapest.
Of course being an internationally focused network it also offers EU roaming at no extra cost, but there’s no Wi-Fi Calling or 4G Calling.
£0.45 a month
1 month contract
£0.99 a month
1 month contract
£4.95 after first 3 months5G
£1.80 a month
1 month contract
Given that BT Mobile isn’t an option for most people, CMLink is one of very few real 5G EE MVNOs around at the time of writing, and it’s a niche proposition.
Its standout feature really is that it offers inclusive roaming in mainland China and Hong Kong, on top of European destinations.
Beyond that, CMLink offers a range of SIM Only plans, many of which only last 30 days – so you don’t have to commit to a lengthy contract. However, it’s light on extras, and doesn’t offer any plans with unlimited data.
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4G networks using EE’s infrastructure
While there’s only a very small number of EE MVNOs that currently offer 5G, there are quite a few 4G MVNOs using EE’s infrastructure, and most of them will probably start offering 5G eventually.
Plusnet Mobile is arguably the biggest of these, and the most notable, because like BT Mobile it has the same parent company as EE. Its focus is on low cost plans, so this could one day be a very affordable way to get EE’s 5G coverage.
Other 4G EE MVNOs include 1pMobile, Airwave Smart Mobile, Anywhere SIM, Axis Telecom, CMLink, CT ExcelBiz, Delight Mobile, Digital Phone, Econet Mobile, Ecotalk, Family Mobile, Go Mobile, Lomo Mobile, Matrix Cellular, Natterbox, Now Mobile, Popit Mobile, Simple Call Mobile, Talk Home Mobile, The Phone Co-Op, Telecom Plus, To The Moon, Ubigi, and Vectone Mobile.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is an MVNO?
MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator, and it means a network that doesn’t have its own mobile infrastructure, instead relying on that of another company. Every UK mobile network except EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 is an MVNO.
What are the advantages of choosing an EE MVNO over EE itself?
EE MVNOs are often cheaper than EE itself, especially as EE tends to be one of the most expensive networks. Plus, they sometimes come with unique perks and advantages that EE doesn’t offer. For example, CMLink lets customers roam for free in China, which EE doesn’t.
What are the disadvantages of choosing an EE MVNO over EE?
EE itself comes with a huge selection of perks and premium features, such as subscriptions to streaming services and unlimited data. Some MVNOs will offer some of the things that EE does, but none are ever likely to fully match it.
Will an EE MVNO offer identical coverage to EE?
As a general rule an EE MVNO should offer identical coverage to EE. It’s not impossible that in future EE might only offer MVNOs access to some of its 5G frequency bands, which could limit their coverage, but that hasn’t happened so far and may well never do.