Networks like giffgaff, Lycamobile, Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile piggyback on O2’s network for 2G, 3G and 4G coverage.
The UK has only four network coverage providers: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Alongside them, a group of virtual network operators such as giffgaff and Sky Mobile operate by ‘piggybacking’ on the signal from one of the four big networks.
At present, five other mobile networks piggyback on coverage from O2. If you’re a customer of one of these mobile networks, you’ll have access to the same coverage as customers on O2. This includes O2’s 99% population coverage on their 2G, 3G and 4G networks (excluding O2-specific services like Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling).
In this article, we’ll list and compare the mobile networks piggybacking on O2 for coverage. They’ll often give you larger allowances for a lower price than on O2. We’ll then compare the best value SIM cards with O2 coverage, at a range of price points from £5/month up to £20/month and more.
Mobile Networks Using O2 Coverage
The following table shows a list of mobile networks using coverage from O2. On all of these networks, you’ll be able to get coverage wherever a normal O2 mobile signal is available:
|Mobile Network||Coverage Provider||2G||3G||4G||5G||Coverage Checker|
|CUniq||O2||✔||✔||✔||✘||Check CUniq Coverage|
|giffgaff||O2||✔||✔||✔||✘||Check giffgaff Coverage|
|Lycamobile||O2||✔||✔||✔||✘||Check Lycamobile Coverage|
|O2||O2||✔||✔||✔||✔||Check O2 Coverage|
|Sky Mobile||O2||✔||✔||✔||✘||Check Sky Mobile Coverage|
|Tesco Mobile||O2||✔||✔||✔||✘||Check Tesco Mobile Coverage|
As of 2019, the biggest players in this list are giffgaff, Sky Mobile and Tesco Mobile. Some of the smaller networks focus on specific international segments (e.g. Lycamobile offers low-cost international calling where CUniq offers you a Chinese or Hong Kong phone number on your UK SIM card).
For a complete list of mobile networks and the coverage providers they’re using, see our in-depth guide to mobile phone coverage in the UK.
Tariff Information & Coverage Information
For more information about each individual network, tap on the relevant logo to visit the mobile network’s website:
If you’re a customer of O2 directly, you’ll have access to O2 customer-exclusive features such as O2 Priority. These offers are not available to customers of a virtual network operator, but there could be other network-specific features or offers (e.g. Sky Mobile’s data piggybank or giffgaff’s Payback rewards).
Deals By Price Range
Through the rest of this article, we’ll compare the best value SIM cards using coverage from O2. We’ve separated the deals out by price range and tariff tariff (into Pay Monthly SIM cards and Pay As You Go SIM card with no need for a credit check).
Please select a price range to see a list of currently available deals:
For less than £10/month, you can get a SIM card from giffgaff, Lycamobile, Sky Mobile or Tesco Mobile giving you coverage from the O2 network.
On a Pay Monthly contract, it’s worth having a look at the deals from Sky Mobile. They’re often quite aggressively priced, and include unlimited streaming through Sky apps if you’re a Sky TV customer.
For greater flexibility with no need for a credit check, order a free SIM card from giffgaff. They offer a £6 goodybag on a Pay As You Go basis with 300 minutes, 500 texts and 500MB of data. Alternatively, you can get the £8 goodybag with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of data.
There are numerous deals available from £10/month with coverage from O2.
Our current recommendation is giffgaff’s £10 goodybag which gives you unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of data. It’s a Pay As You Go bundle so there’s no need to sign a contract or to undergo a credit check. Also, once you’ve been a giffgaff customer for 3 months, you’ll get an extra 1GB of data, boosting your allowance to 7GB per month.
The following table shows Pay Monthly contracts and Pay As You Go bundles, with coverage from O2 costing £10/month and more:
Pay Monthly Contracts
The following deals are available from £15/month, and include coverage from O2:
Pay Monthly Contracts
£20/month and more
For £20/month, giffgaff offers 40GB of data along with unlimited minutes and unlimited texts. This is available on a one-month rolling deal (Pay As You Go), so there’s no need to sign a contract or to undergo a credit check.
For an extra £5/month, you can upgrade this to Always-On data with the £25 goodybag (unlimited downloads with the first 40GB per month at full 4G speeds).
The following table shows a list of deals available from £20/month with coverage from O2:
Pay Monthly Contracts
Pay As You Go Bundles
Traditional Pay As You Go
If you’re looking for a traditional Pay As You Go tariff where you’re able to pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you’re currently best off with O2’s Classic Pay As You Go plan. On Classic Pay As You Go, you’ll pay 3p/minute, 2p/text and 1p/MB. This undercuts the price offered by virtual networks like giffgaff, who charge 15p/minute, 5p/text and 5p/MB.
Other Pay As You Go networks could be better for more specialist usage. For instance, Lycamobile offers low-cost international phone calls using O2 coverage on Pay As You Go.
For more information, see our full guide to mobile phone coverage in the UK and our in-depth guide to O2’s mobile network and coverage. You can also read our in-depth reviews of each UK mobile network.