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In the UK there are a lot of MVNO (Mobile virtual network operator) options to choose from and they all offer solid 4G coverage, however,only a few of them are offering superfast 5G data speeds to their customers.
SMARTY launched back in August 2017 using the Three network, but unfortunately the network hasn’t made the jump to 5G yet, even though their host Three has the fastest 5G in the country. SMARTY says they’re first upgrading their network’s 3G and 4G services to ensure their customers have the best coverage possible, but it takes time as Three’s 4G coverage lags behind the other three major network providers, specifically EE, Vodafone and O2.
We don’t know when SMARTY will launch their 5G service yet, but we already know how the experience will be thanks to Three’s 5G.
In this article, we’ll cover what SMARTY’s future 5G coverage will look like, and what other alternatives are on the market if you want a 5G SIM only deal now.
Table of Contents
SMARTY 5G Coverage
As we stated above, SMARTY is using Three as its network provider for 3G & 4G services and the carrier will also be using Three for it’s 5G Coverage when the time comes. According to various tests performed by independent and objective testing bodies such as OOKLA, umlaut and Open Signal, Three and SMARTY have identical network coverage and data speeds, meaning Three doesn’t enforce any speed or coverage restrictions on the MVNO. We have no reason to believe 5G will change this dynamic, and on top of that Three also has the most 5G spectrum in the UK, so have the capacity to offer the best & fastest 5G network.
Three’s 5G network is live and available in 193 cities and towns across the country. Three has the most locations covered in the UK. The carrier is ahead of EE, O2 and Vodafone when it comes to number of locations covered. However, Three behind EE and O2 in terms of 5G coverage per location. The operator’s 5G is available to all customers, you get to enjoy all the benefits of 5G, even if you’re on Three’s pay as you go service. Needless to say, you’ll have to have a 5G ready device to enjoy Three’s superfast 5G speeds.
EE’s 5G coverage is available in 125 locations in the UK and the network is improving their 5G service at a faster pace. Plus their coverage is also wider in each location vs. their competitors. You can read our EE Review to learn more. EE also has the most active 5G users at the moment, with Three ranking second in this regard.
You may also want to check out our network comparisons, if you’re unsure or want to learn how each of the major networks compare.
As always, Half Cooked would like to remind you to use each network’s coverage map and check the areas you visit frequently before grabbing a SIM deal from a mobile network.
SMARTY 5G Data Speeds
We expect SMARTY to offer the same superfast 5G data speeds Three customers enjoy. These two carriers offer identical coverage and data speeds on both 3G & 4G, and when it comes to 5G, the other networks in the UK also allow their MVNOs to provide identical 5G download speeds.
At the time of writing, Three is the fastest 5G network provider in the UK. OOKLA’s October 2020 speed test results show that Three’s average 5G download speed is at 201Mbps. This is incredibly fast and in fact, it’s much faster than most fixed broadband services. Depending on your location, you may also be eligible for a Three 5G Home Broadband deal, it’s worth checking out as you can get faster speeds than your fixed line broadband service at a reduced cost.
SMARTY itself wasn’t tested since the network’s 5G is only available to selected customers for trials. However, sharing the same network with Three, the test results would be identical. This means, if SMARTY’s 5G launches some time soon, they will also offer the fastest 5G download speeds at competitive prices.
If you’re happy with your SMARTY coverage, but want to experience 5G download speeds, you can switch to Three’s monthly rolling SIM only plans or use their PAYG bundles for the time being. Unfortunately, there’s no specific date set in stone for when 5G is coming to SMARTY.
Alternative 5G SIM Only Deals
Luckily, 5G is becoming more and more popular and all four major networks offer some great 5G SIM Only plans already. You also have other options like VOXI, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and BT Mobile offering 5G data speeds to their customers.
EE has the most 5G coverage per location among the big four networks and their 5G service is live in 125 cities and towns. On top of that they have the most 5G customers. However, we believe this translates to slower 5G data speeds, especially during peak periods. EE’s average 5G download speed is around 134Mbps, the slowest in the UK.
5G is also only available on selected plans and can’t be added to your plan later on, unlike Sky Mobile. While they have the slowest 5G data speeds, 134Mbps is still very fast and according to tests performed by OOKLA, EE’s 5G is more stable than Three’s.
Just like Three, O2 offers 5G at no extra cost and many other benefits like free Disney +, Wi-Fi Calling, 4G Calling and O2 Priority are bundled in with these deals. O2’s 5G is live in 150 cities and towns, and their average 5G download speed is around 177Mbps. This means O2 has the most UK 5G coverage (alongside with Three) and it’s the second fastest 5G network at the moment.
The network is also a great option, if you want to get a 5G ready device. They allow you to customise your own contract and split your airtime plan and device plan.
You might also want to check O2’s refurbished phone store too. You can read our O2 Review to learn more about the network’s 4G coverage, plans and features.
Vodafone has the least 5G Coverage in the UK with 57 cities and towns covered, however, they also offer 5G coverage in 193 more locations across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. They are also the only network providing 5G and regular 4G data speeds when you’re roaming abroad.
Vodafone’s average 5G download speeds are around 150Mbps, but the service is only available on selected pay monthly plans and pay as you go bundles. Vodafone Basics plans and Vodafone’s classic pay as you go customers can’t get 5G speeds at the time of writing. You can discover more about the network by reading our Vodafone Review.
VOXI is powered by Vodafone and they offer identical 5G coverage and data speeds with their host network. The network offers three different 5G SIM Only deals, including an unlimited data plan. Don’t worry, because the other two plans come with unlimited social media streaming and VOXI’s Endless Video, which allows you to stream YouTube and Netflix without eating into your regular data allowance. There are no credit checks or contracts so you can join VOXI anytime you want and if you’re unhappy with their service you can just switch to a new network.
Tesco Mobile is a MVNO and the carrier is using O2’s infrastructure to provide 5G coverage in 150 cities and towns in the country. Tesco Mobile’s 5G plans come with 5000 UK minutes and 5000 texts and they’re all 12-month contracts. Currently, the network doesn’t offer any pay as you go 5G deals.
You can grab double data from the network, if you have Tesco Mobile Clubcard Plus. Check out our Tesco Mobile Review to discover more or read our Tesco Mobile 5G Review and find out all about their 5G offers!
Sky Mobile is powered by O2 and the network offers identical 5G network coverage and data speeds as its host network. To get 5G data speeds from Sky, you must either be a Sky VIP member or pay £5/month and purchase their 5G bolt-on. Keep in mind that Sky VIP is actually a free loyalty programme, and you can become a member easily via the My Sky app.
BT Mobile is using EE’s unrivalled network to provide top notch 5G coverage. BT Mobile only offers long-term contracts and all their plans come with 5G coverage. However, you’ll need a 5G device and be in a 5G area in order to make the most of everything their 5G service has to offer.
Make sure to check out our BT Mobile Review and discover all the benefits you can earn by joining their network.
Frequently Asked Questions
When will 5G come to SMARTY?
The network didn’t announce a date yet. We know that they’re doing test runs, but there is no timeframe set for launch.
Does SMARTY have 4G Calling (VoLTE)?
At the moment, no, SMARTY doesn’t have VoLTE. The network actually launched the service for a brief moment, but they faced major technical difficulties and ended up pulling the feature back for the time being.
Does SMARTY have Wi-Fi Calling?
Yes, SMARTY customers get Wi-Fi Calling at no extra cost. However, 4G Calling (VoLTE) is yet to arrive.
Does SMARTY have good 4G Coverage?
SMARTY’s 4G population coverage is over 99%, however, the network’s 4G landmass coverage lags behind all the other operators. They’re working on it though.
Does SMARTY have a data rollover scheme?
SMARTY has a money back feature. On selected SMARTY plans, you’ll get your money back for the unused data you still have on a monthly basis.
Are there any speed caps on SMARTY?
No, the host network Three doesn’t enforce any speed caps.