These are the best (and worst) mobile networks for 2019: how does yours compare?

A recent survey from Which? has revealed the UK’s best and worst mobile networks – the surprising results show the smaller players on top.

Mobile networks are a vital part of modern life

Lots of self-employed people rely on their mobile network provider for the smooth running of their business.

You might make calls to customers and suppliers, or need a fast and reliable internet connection to fulfil orders.

And that’s not to mention that many people now use their phones to manage most of their personal affairs, too. Whether it’s ordering a takeaway, calling a cab or even finding a partner, mobile networks are a vital part of 21st century life.

So with mobile providers getting ready for 5G (a faster mobile broadband network) over the coming year, Which? asked 6,135 of its members to rate providers on factors like customer service and value for money.

The results of the annual survey show the bigger players losing ground to new challengers. Could it be time to shop around for a new deal?

13 mobile networks, ranked best to worst

The Which? survey asked members to score mobile providers on:

  • customer service
  • ease of contacting
  • value for money
  • incentives

And here they are, ranked:

Rank Mobile network provider
1 Giffgaff
2 Utility Warehouse
3 Plusnet Mobile
4 Tesco Mobile
5 Asda Mobile
6 Sky Mobile
7 ID Mobile
8 Three
9 BT Mobile
10 Virgin Mobile
11 O2
12 EE
13 Vodafone

Which? calls out the ‘big four’

Vodafone, EE and O2 all take the bottom three places, and Three comes in at a middling eighth. These providers make up the ‘big four’ – and Which? survey respondents aren’t happy with them.

Vodafone scored one-star ratings for customer service, value for money and technical support, and a quarter of customers said the rewards and incentives they offer are poor.

Less than half of EE’s customers said that they received good or excellent customer service, while one in 10 O2 customers said that they were getting poor value for money.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “The continuing reign of smaller networks over the big players goes to show exactly how important customer support and value for money are to mobile users.”

What’s the difference between personal and business use?

It’s worth noting that some networks prohibit business use – including Giffgaff, the top provider according to the Which? survey. You could use the list above as a starting point when researching which networks suit you best, referring to each provider’s terms and conditions.

But the lines between business and personal use can become blurred, especially if you’re a sole trader or run your business by yourself. A personal contract could easily cover both the calls you need to make and data you need to use for business purposes.

These blurred lines also raise questions around what you can claim as tax deductible expenses. If you’re on a personal contract with set tariffs, it’s difficult to separate business from personal use, which makes it hard to claim your phone use.

If you run a limited company, you can claim tax relief by making sure that the contract is set up in your company’s name. If a contract is set up in your company’s name and you only give your employees one phone or SIM card, you don’t have any HMRC reporting obligations and don’t need to deduct and pay tax and National Insurance.

You should get Corporation Tax relief on the total cost of your contract – but keep in mind you may need to use the provider’s business tariffs, which might be more expensive than a personal contract.

Read more: what can I claim as self-employed tax-deductible expenses?

How do you rate your mobile provider? Let us know in the comments below.

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