Mobile network operators in Essex

Increasing connectivity in Essex

Fixed broadband has been the driving force behind the Superfast Essex programme for almost a decade. But connectivity needs are changing and we're seeing a growing need for reliable and effective mobile connectivity, like 5G.

In response to this, we're expanding our remit to cover digital connectivity in all its forms – including both broadband and mobile internet. We don't have plans to roll out our own 5G network, but we’ll be supporting and guiding the plans of mobile network operators so that our county is better connected as soon as possible.

Who provides my phone signal?

There are two different types of mobile operators who are responsible for providing your phone signal. You’ll either receive a service directly from a mobile network operator (MNO) – in the UK, there are four: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. These operators own or control all the elements needed to deliver you with a service.

Otherwise, you’ll access your service from a mobile virtual network operator (MNVO) – these are suppliers who lease wireless services from one of the mobile network operators and then resell this service to their customers. Examples of MNVOs and the MNO they lease from are below, but you can find a full list of active operators here.  

  • EE (includes BT)
  • Vodafone (includes ASDA, VOXI, Virgin and Labara)
  • Three (includes iD Mobile)
  • O2 (includes Sky, Tesco and Giffgaff)

Your monthly phone or pay-as-you-go contract can be with either an MNO or an MNVO.

You can check your mobile status, including coverage, on Ofcom’s mobile checker.

Why does someone get different mobile signal to me?

The mobile signal you receive will depend on which operator you have a service with and where you are located. Because different operators use infrastructure in differing locations, you may find that a family member who isn’t on the same network as you may get a different signal strength or be able to access 4G/5G speeds even when you’re in exactly the same place.

How do I change my mobile contract?

If you’re out of your existing contract, signing up to a new one couldn’t be easier. But, if you’re still tied into a contract, you may have to pay to leave it early. This will vary from operator to operator, so it’s worth checking before you commit to a new contract.

Here’s how to change contracts:

  1. Find a new contract that you’d like to switch to! We recommend using comparison websites to find the best deals.
  2. Once you’ve signed up to your new contract, you can request a PAC code from your ‘old’ supplier if you want to keep your current mobile number.
  3. Supply your new provider with the PAC code. They can then start the process of switching your phone number, which typically takes 1-2 days. Be aware that a PAC code runs out after 30 days.
  4. If you don’t want to keep your old phone number, you can request a STAC instead. This will allow you to end your current contract – but, remember, there may be charges to leave early, depending on the operator you took your service out with.