Review of Vodafone UK: everything you need to know (April 2019)

Vodafone made the first mobile phone call in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and sent the world's first text on Christmas Eve in 1992. The company switched on its 4G network in August 2013.

For the first decades, Vodafone was the largest network in the UK, but recently the company has affected its subscriber base by increased competition from its main competitors – EE and O2 – which have pushed the red brand to third place.

In this Vodafone U.K. assessment we analyze the network, including coverage, plans and what awaits us for the British provider.

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Network technology

Vodafone U.K. currently uses the following frequencies:

Frequency Protocol Class
900 MHz GSM / GPRS / EDGE 2G
1800 MHz GSM / GPRS / EDGE 2G
900 MHz UMTS / HSDPA / HSPA + / DC-HSPA + 3G
2100 MHz UMTS / HSDPA / HSPA + / DC-HSPA + 3G
800 MHz LTE 4G
900 MHz LTE 4G
1500 MHz (SDL) LTE 4G
2600MHz (FDD) LTE 4G
2600 MHz (TDD) TD-LTE 4G

The Vodafone network covers more than 99 percent of the population and its 4G LTE network corresponds to its main competitors EE, O2 and Three, which also includes 99 percent of the population.

4G LTE

Although Vodafone U.K. his 4G network almost a year after EE launched in 2013, the provider quickly expanded its coverage, while also making promises about the quality of its LTE offering. The company has made 4G calling (VoLTE) available to a number of cities across the country on phones from Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Sony.

Vodafone signed an agreement in 2009 for sharing networks with O2, via the Cornerstone project, to share their British infrastructure. However, unlike other projects, the two networks share the structure on which the masts are located but not the antennas themselves.

The Cornerstone project is crucial for Vodafone's LTE network in the UK because it means that the courier does not have to cover the costs of deploying thousands of masts to improve coverage. In addition to Cornerstone, Vodafone U.K has also reused its existing masts to improve 3G coverage (at the 900MHz frequency), while adding more capacity using the 800MHz (inner coverage) and 2600MHz (long range, high speed outdoor range).

Like EE, Vodafone UK offers 4G LTE Advanced using carrier aggregation (also known as 4G +) and while EE was the first to offer the service, the dual-speed Vodafone network was found to offer faster real-world speeds in some places , although EE's 4G network seems to be generally considered faster.

5G

As with any UK supplier, Vodafone has big plans for 5G. The network won the big five at the 5G auction in 2018 and grabbed 50 MHz 3.4 GHz spectrum for £ 378,240,000 – more than any other provider. Vodafone is also continuing its relationship with O2 parent company Telefónica by agreeing to extend its network sharing partner scheme to 5G on joint radio sites for faster national deployment.

Vodafone hopes to roll out 5G in H2 2019, but the main goal is to provide 5G coverage to 1,000 cities by the end of 2020. The first series of confirmed Vodafone 5G cities and towns are Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Guildford, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.

Read more: Everything you need to know about every 5G phone confirmed so far

The company began testing its 5G technology near Manchester at the end of 2018. This included enabling 5G as a public test at Manchester Airport.

Regarding 5G phones, Vodafone will launch the Huawei Mate X folding phone and is expected to store the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

Vodafone U.K. plans and devices

Vodafone logo on a telephone - Vodafone UK network review

Pay monthly

Vodafone & # 39; s Pay Monthly (PAYM) handset plans are spread over three layers, all of which offer standard 4G. Entry-level contracts can be found under the company's Essentials subscriptions, the Red Extra subscription offers unlimited minutes and texts with large amounts of data, and the Red Entertainment plan comes with unlimited minutes and texts, lots of data and a subscription from 24 months on Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Sky Sports or NowTV included. All plans come with Vodafone Global Roaming, which allows you to use your emission allowances free of charge at 48 roaming-free destinations.

Vodafone U.K currently offers up to 100 GB of 4G data with its handsets and the Red Entertainment plan, or just 500 MB with 500 minutes on the cheapest Essentials plan. Monthly prices vary depending on the smartphone model that you choose.

Vodafone was at some point the only network to offer 12-month handset contracts in the UK, but these have fallen in favor of more traditional 24-month options. If you are interested in contact options for 12 or 30 days, you should go to Vodafone's SIM only deals.

Telephone brands

Vodafone shop sign - Vodafone UK network review

Vodafone has a wide range of telephones from different manufacturers in stock at Pay Monthly. Below is the complete list of the most important brands:

  • Samsung
  • Huawei
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Sony
  • Nokia
  • OnePlus
  • Motorola
  • blackberry
  • Palm

The selection is not as good on Pay as you go as Vodafone does not sell premium phones without SIM. You will find cheaper handsets from Sony, Nokia, Doro and Vodafone & # 39; s own brand phones instead.

Pay only monthly SIM card

Although most customers buy their phones as part of a contract, a small (but growing) subset of customers buy handsets and contracts separately, as this generally works out considerably cheaper than when the handset is purchased on contract.

For these customers, Vodafone UK offers SIM Only subscriptions with a 30-day or 12-month commitment, and if you opt for the latter, you can upgrade to a handset after just three months (but you do need the full commitment to leave Vodafone ). All Vodafone SIM packages also come with Global Roaming. As with Pay Monthly subscriptions, the 12-month SIMO deals include subscriptions to Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, Sky Sports or NowTV for the duration of the contract.

These are Vodafone's current SIMO prices (subject to change, we have the standard price and the current promotional price included):

Plan data Minutes texts Cost of 12 months 30 day charge
Essentials 500MB 500 Unlimited £ 11 / m £ 13 / m
Essentials 1GB 1000 Unlimited £ 13 / m £ 15 / m
Red Extra 3GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 15 / m £ 17 / m
Red Extra 10GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 17 / m £ 22 / m
Red Entertainment (12 months) / Red Extra (30 days) 20GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 20 / m £ 27 / m
Red Entertainment (12 months) / Red Extra (30 days) 40GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 25 / m £ 32 / m
Red Entertainment (12 months) / Red Extra (30 days) 60GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 30 / m £ 37 / m
Red Entertainment 80GB Unlimited Unlimited £ 42 / m N / A

Pay as you go plans

Just like any network, Vodafone offers U.K. also 4G Pay As You Go plans (PAYG). The standard Pay As You Go 1 rate costs 20 p per minute, text or 5 MB of data and is limited to £ 1 per day.

Alternatively, Vodafone sells Rolling Big Value bundles for 30 days, with packets of data, minutes and text messages starting at just £ 5 a month. All unused data, minutes or texts are transferred to the next 30-day period. Customers can also collect reward points with these bundles, which can be spent on store vouchers, accessories or even sent to a new phone.

Here are the PAYG Big Value bundle options from Vodafone:

Package costs Minutes texts data Duration Rewards / Benefits:
£ 5 150 250 100MB 30 days 100 reward points
£ 10 250 Unlimited 2GB 30 days 150 reward points
£ 20 1000 Unlimited 8GB 30 days 250 reward points
£ 30 3000 Unlimited 20GB 30 days 350 reward points

Mobile broadband

Vodafone offers a range of mobile broadband products such as USB dongles, mobile WiFi routers and only data sims.

The deals for mobile broadband change quite often, but the 4G data SIMs are more consistent. These are the SIM cards with data only at the time of writing:

data Cost of 12 months 30 day charge Global roaming
2GB £ 11 £ 11 Yes
5GB £ 15 £ 15 Yes
15GB £ 20 £ 20 Yes
30GB £ 25 £ 25 Yes
50GB £ 30 £ 30 Yes

The most important proposition for mobile broadband from Vodafone is the GigaCube. The 4G hotspot can connect up to 20 devices and is designed for home use as a broadband replacement. Prices start at £ 35 with data plans ranging from 60 GB to 300 GB on 30-day or 18-month plans.

Tablets, accessories and smart home

Vodafone logo - Vodafone UK network assessment

Vodafone has several tablets on Pay Monthly subscriptions or Pay as you go. You will usually find Apple iPads, but Vodafone has more affordable Android tablets from Samsung and Huawei in stock.

The network also sells accessories such as cases, memory cards, screen protectors, chargers, headphones and more. Vodafone also has the Apple Watch and its own V-SOS Band and V-Kids Watch wearables in stock.

Finally, Vodafone has a smart home category with the name V from Vodafone. The V-Home bundles smart home products from different manufacturers in a single package, all supported by the V by Vodafone app. There are also V by Vodafone trackers for bags, pets and cars.

Broadband, landline telephones and quad play

The increasing demand for mobile services has led mobile networks to challenge traditional fixed service providers in an effort to become the only "Quad-play" provider for customers. The Quad-play market is becoming increasingly competitive as mobile providers switch to traditional fixed-line services such as TV, broadband and fixed telephony (someone even uses a landline!) With their existing customer base.

More British language: Best telephones up to £ 500 in the UK

Vodafone currently offers two options for fiber optic broadband with a fixed telephone line included. The Superfast 1 package costs 23 pounds a month (or 21 pounds for existing Vodafone Pay Monthly mobile customers) for unlimited use, landlines and speeds of 35 Mbps on average. The Superfast 2 package offers the same package with average speeds of 63 Mbps for £ 25 a month (£ 27 for Vodafone Pay Monthly customers). A £ 60 fee applies to every new customer without an Openreach rule.

Final thoughts

Vodafone logo from IFA 2018 - Vodafone UK network review

The dominance of Vodafone has decreased considerably in the UK in recent years, mainly due to the emergence of EE as the largest player in the region.

The network has improved its U.K. offer – in terms of coverage quality and packages – and has succeeded in slowly increasing its market share. Vodafone is looking for 5G is a huge opportunity and is in an excellent position to deliver the following data speeds thanks to its large profit during the most recent spectrum auction.

Vodafone certainly has something to offer for everyone

The Vodafone network is one of the best in the UK and more or less similar to EE. Vodafone is by no means perfect, but the network has made enormous improvements in recent years.

Whether you live in the UK or travel to the UK and need a local SIM, Vodafone has something for everyone.


Are you a current or former Vodafone U.K. customer? Let us know your opinion!

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