UK Mobile Data Is Cheap, But Useless Without A Signal


One of the things that struck me about travelling in the UK was how cheap data is now. I picked up a Three SIM card after arriving at Manchester Airport and signed up for the 12GB monthly prepaid plan.

For the three weeks I was in the UK this was going to more than serve my needs. And all for £20.

Except that it didn't because I found the quality of the signal across large parts of the North of England and Scotland to be non-existent in places. Without a signal its hard to actually chew through all of the fabulously cheap data.

By comparison NZ data is expensive and in a country with just a few major cities and large, dispersed rural populations it's no surprise to find areas with no signal. Yet NZ's networks seem to have done a much better job of filling the holes than their UK counterparts. Certainly I've never failed to get a signal in places where I'd expect to find one.

The same is emphatically not true of the UK. I'm not sure whether that's just a weakness of the Three network or also true for other UK networks, but it seems a pretty disappointing state of affairs. I even suspected my iPhone SE of being at fault - yet a switch to another phone gave no improvement.

If I were to return to the UK I'd certainly be looking at someone else to provide my mobile coverage, because ultimately the low price doesn't wash away the bitter taste of poor service.

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