CMLink offers 4G coverage from EE, with free or low cost phone calls to China. Customers also get inclusive roaming when travelling to China & Hong Kong.
CMLink is a new UK mobile network offering high-speed 4G coverage from the EE network. Set up by China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile network in terms of subscribers, the CMLink UK network has some unique features for customers with a connection to China or Hong Kong.
Benefits of CMLink include free phone calls to more than 900 million China Mobile customers in Mainland China (up to 1,000 minutes per month) and inclusive roaming at no extra cost when travelling to China and Hong Kong.
Most CMLink UK customers will purchase a Data Growth Pack bundle, where a £10 monthly top-up will give you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of internet. For each month you remain a CMLink customer, your data allowance will grow by a further 5%, up to a maximum of three times the original amount (so up to 9GB on the £10 Data Growth Pack).
In this article, we’ll review the CMLink UK mobile network. We’ll start by looking at the CMLink price plans, including Data Growth Packs and inclusive phone calls to China. We’ll then discuss how you can top-up your CMLink SIM card, before looking at coverage on the network and how to keep your existing phone number when joining.
Pricing & Tariffs
If you’re a regular mobile user or smartphone owner, a Data Growth Pack will normally be the easiest and cheapest way to use your CMLink SIM card. With a Data Growth Pack, you’ll convert your Pay As You Go credit into a one-month bundle of minutes, texts and mobile internet.
The following table shows CMLink’s Data Growth Pack bundles:
You can use your Data Growth Pack at no additional cost when travelling to other EU destinations, Mainland China and Hong Kong.
For each month you remain on CMLink as a customer and renew your Data Growth Pack, your monthly data allowance will automatically be boosted by 5%. For instance, a customer on the £10 Data Growth Pack will see their allowance boosted from 3GB to 3.15GB in the second month of usage and then to 3.3GB in the third month of usage. The maximum amount your data can grow by is to three times the original amount (i.e. 1.5GB on the £5 pack, 9GB on the £10 pack and 27GB on the £18 pack).
You can buy your Data Growth Pack bundle by texting the relevant bundle code as follows to 10086:
|Bundle Name||Bundle Code|
|£5 Data Growth Pack||Text GP 5 to 10086|
|£10 Data Growth Pack||Text GP 10 to 10086|
|£18 Data Growth Pack||Text GP 18 to 10086|
Once you’ve signed up for a bundle, it will renew automatically every month providing there’s enough credit on your SIM card.
Pay As You Go Rates
If you don’t have a Growth Pack bundle that’s active on your SIM card, you can also use CMLink on a traditional Pay As You Go basis. Here, you’ll pay for your usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, with no obligation to top-up your phone or to buy a bundle every month.
CMLink UK charges the following rates on Pay As You Go:
|Calls to UK||8p/minute to other UK mobiles & landlines
Free to call other CMLink UK customers
|Calls to Voicemail||8p/minute|
|Calls to Special Rate Numbers||8p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
|Calls to China||2p/minute
(free to call China Mobile customers, up to 1,000 minutes per month)
|Text Message (SMS)||8p|
|Picture Message (MMS)||–|
|Mobile Internet||5p/MB (buy a 1 month bundle for better value)|
If you’re a regular mobile user or a smartphone owner, you’ll typically save money by buying a monthly Growth Pack bundle. For instance, a £10 top-up would only give you 200MB of data at traditional Pay As You Go rates. Meanwhile, the equivalent £10 Data Growth Pack would give you at least 3GB (3,000MB) of data per month.
You can check the balance on your account at any time by texting CHECK to 10086.
Calling & Texting China
As a CMLink customer, you’ll get free phone calls to customers of China Mobile in Mainland China (+86). With China Mobile being the world’s largest mobile network operator, this makes it possible for you to call more than 900 million people at no cost when using the CMLink UK mobile network. There’s a fair usage policy of 1,000 free minutes every month, after which you’ll need to pay the regular 2p/minute rate.
If you’re calling landlines in Mainland China or customers of a different mobile network (e.g. China Unicom or China Telecom), you’ll need to pay the standard 2p/minute rate for phone calls to China. It also costs 2p/minute to make phone calls to Hong Kong (+852) for both landline and mobile phone numbers.
If you’d like to send a text message to Mainland China or Hong Kong, it costs 8p/text to do this.
CM Numbers Link
If you have a China Mobile phone number that’s based in Mainland China, you can use the CM Numbers Link service to get phone calls and text messages forwarded to your CMLink UK SIM card. This allows you to access Chinese applications and websites that require you to have a phone number based in Mainland China. It can also simplify things for friends & family located in China making it easier for them to get in touch with you.
At the time of writing, CM Numbers Link is available for free as part of a “time-limited promotion” until the 31st December 2018. It can be added to your account with a phone call to customer services on 10086.
You can top-up your SIM card online with a minimum of £10 each time, using your credit card or debit card (Mastercard or Visa).
Alternatively, it’s also possible to top-up using Chinese payment methods such as UnionPay, AliPay and WeChat Pay. If you do this, your top-up amount will converted into the RMB equivalent. At the time of writing, it appears a mark-up of around 3% is charged on the conversion to RMB, so it may be advantageous to top-up in GBP where possible.
Occasionally, CMLink offers time limited top-up rebate promotions. For instance, at the time of writing, it’s possible to get a £5 rebate on £20 top-ups, a £10 rebate on £30 top-ups and a £15 rebate on £40 top-ups (offer expires on the 31st December 2018). These top-up rebates can help to boost your Pay As You Go balance at no extra charge.
Minimum Top-Up Requirement
In order to keep your CMLink SIM card active, you should top-up your SIM card at least once every 90 days. This is stated in clause 6.4 of the CMLink UK terms and conditions:
6.4 We may disconnect You from the Services if You have not topped up Your Account with a Voucher within the preceding 90 days period or if Your Account balance drops below zero and You have failed to purchase and activate a Voucher or otherwise make payment to Us to clear any negative balance. Top up will only be allowed within 30 days from the expiry day of the 90-day life period of the Services. Successful top up will effect a 90-day validity of the Services, from the next day following the expiry day of the preceding 90 days period. If We disconnect You for non-use of Services as set out in this section any unused credits or allowances on any Voucher remaining on Your Account subject to the disconnection will be forfeited.
Network & Coverage
2G, 3G & 4G Coverage From EE
CMLink is a virtual network operator in the UK, using EE as its network coverage provider. Customers using CMLink UK will therefore receive the exact same coverage as customers on EE.
At the time of writing, this means CMLink offers 99% population coverage on EE’s 2G, 3G and 4G networks. This translates through to 90% geographical coverage, with a commitment by EE to increase this to 95% by 2020.
Before ordering your SIM card from the CMLink UK website, it’s recommended you check the coverage in your area. You can do this through EE’s online coverage map:
For more information, see our in-depth guide to mobile network coverage in the UK.
Tethering or personal hotspot refers to the process of sharing your smartphone’s internet connection with other devices (e.g. with your laptop or tablet). It’s a common way to share your mobile broadband connection and to stay connected from multiple devices whilst on-the-go.
On CMLink UK, you can tether and use personal hotspot with the data allowance in your Data Growth Pack. For more information, see our in-depth guide to tethering on UK mobile networks.
Customers with a CMLink UK SIM card can use their mobile phone abroad at no extra charge in other EU destinations, Mainland China and Hong Kong.
For customers travelling to Mainland China and Hong Kong, the inclusive international roaming offered by CMLink is a significant benefit. Most other UK mobile networks charge an extortionate amount for roaming when you travel to these countries (often £6 per megabyte or more). Other networks may also offer restricted roaming speeds, whereas CMLink offers high-speed 4G roaming on the China Mobile network.
Keeping Your Phone Number
If you’re switching to CMLink from another mobile network, it’s a straightforward process to keep your existing phone number.
To do so, you should start by asking your current mobile network to provide you with a PAC Code. This is a nine-digit code that authorises the transfer of your phone number to CMLink, and must be provided to you free of charge within 2 hours of your request. Our guide to transferring your phone number has more information about how you can do this.
Once you’ve managed to obtain a PAC Code from your old network, you should order and activate your CMLink UK SIM card. When it arrives, you should contact CMLink customer services, either through their online form or by calling 10086. Give them the PAC Code issued by your old mobile network, and they’ll schedule the transfer of your phone number (normally for the next working day).
For more information, see our in-depth guide on how to transfer your UK phone number between mobile networks.
For more information, please see the official CMLink UK website.