Which network operators support 2G and 3G?

UK networks and their 2G and 3G services

All of the 40 or so mobile operators we’re familiar with in the UK are powered by one of the four major UK mobile networks – EE, Three, O2 and Vodaphone.

Whether we’re talking about making personal calls or using data, or business customers running IoT devices, these four Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) own and maintain the infrastructure required to deliver services to UK customers.

If you need a SIM card to power your IoT connectivity, it’s important to understand which network ultimately provides the service, and even more important to know which ones operate a 2G and 3G service.

As the list below shows, all of them currently offer a 3G service. But Three, as you would expect from the name, does not offer 2G.

The presence of overseas SIM cards in UK IoT

In order to benefit from the resilience and enhanced coverage offered by roaming SIMs, many UK-based IoT operators turn to non-UK SIM cards.

This can make communication with devices more expensive as they use international mobile numbers which are either expensive to call or blocked on most networks. But importantly, it also puts your deployments at risk.

Why? Well, complaints in the aftermath of aggressive PPI selling prompted Ofcom to implement new legislation to block nuisance calls at the source. With many PPI and other nuisance calls originating from overseas numbers, this is now a marker in the automatic blocking of calls.

This means that important calls or data transfers may be blocked at source. If you’re responsible for IoT deployments that protect people and lives in important sectors, it’s essential to check if your connectivity is ultimately powered by an overseas SIM card, as this could put vital connectivity at risk.

Overseas SIM cards will be powered by one or more of the UK networks when operating in the UK – so the table above will help you to check if an overseas SIM card supports 2G or 3G in the UK.

What is a multi-network SIM and why does it offer more resilience?

At OV, we offer a multi-network SIM. It can access the connectivity provided by any of the four major operators, rather than being dependent on just one of them. It’s resilient because it offers guaranteed continuity of service if one of the network operators elects to sunset its service.

It’s also resilient because it offers improved coverage. All networks have ‘patches’ of poor or unavailable signal, but with OV’s SIM, you can simply switch automatically to another network in the area that does offer connectivity.

In simple terms, with OV you don’t have to choose a single network – as long as at least one of the MNOs in the UK continues to offer a 2G or 3G service, you’ll be able to switch to that network.

Go network-agnostic – choose OV

If you’re an IoT device manufacturer or provider, the prospect of ‘sunsetting’ of 2G and 3G networks by the main MNOs may be making you think twice about which network operator to choose when you’re building in connectivity for your devices.

OV’s multi-network platform is the answer, helping you find a way through the deadlock caused by sunsetting uncertainty.

Let’s talk

Contact OV today to arrange a chat about your mobile technology plans. We’d love to talk.