Mobile Phone coverage and signal FAQ

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How can I check which provider offers signal in my area?
In the rush to explore the latest handsets features or discover a good deal on a new tariff, many people forget all about if a mobile phone provider is going to provide them with a good signal overall. Obviously, without good mobile phone coverage, a phone is pretty useless.

Obviously, as mobile phones are designed to be moved from place to place, no provider can guarantee signal in every single area you might travel, but that doesn't mean you can't figure out how well a certain provider might do in locations you're likely to be often, such as your own home or your office. Not every provider uses a different signal, but most of the big ones all have their own network, so just because you can get a good signal from Orange in your area doesn't mean you'll automatically enjoy the same from Vodafone.

The best way to check signal is to go online and take a look at the mobile phone coverage checker of all the different phone companies. Each one should have a fairly detailed map of where they provide coverage, and while these aren't ever 100% accurate they should be a good indicator of what you can expect.

What's the difference between 2G and 3G signal?
2G and 3G simply stand for second and third generation, referring to the technology they use. These acronyms might sound confusing, but in reality they both perform a very a different function so it's easy to remember. 2G signal is what every single handset in the UK uses by default to make calls, send and receive text messages and perform any other basic phone tasks. 2G coverage in the UK is very good, even in rural areas, so unless you're really out in the middle of nowhere your phone should be able to pick up at least some level of 2G signal.

3G signal isn't quite as easy to find, but it's not as vital to your phones operation, either. 3G signal makes services like the internet on your phone much faster, and it's what most modern smartphones like the iPhone rely on to provide data and information at a good speed. 3G normally allows you to use the internet at a similar sort of speed to a broadband connection, providing the signal is relatively strong. 3G isn't needed to make calls or get texts, but many modern phones are relying on it more and more.

How do I change my mobile provider?
If you aren't bothered about keeping your mobile number, then changing your provider is as easy as finishing up your current contract and then going out and looking for a new provider. Once your contract period is up, you don't owe any sort of allegiance to any particular provider and are free to choose whatever one you think will give you the best deal. When doing this, mobile comparison websites and blogs can come in very useful.

If you do want to keep your number, then you'll need to contact your old provider and tell them that you are leaving. Inform them that you wish to take your number with you and ask for a PAC number. If you give this number to your new provider, you can transfer your mobile number across to a new service. This service isn't always free though; some mobile providers may charge you a small fee.

About Mobile Choices: Mobile Choices is all about giving consumers a wide range of relevant, up to date information about the mobile phone market, and allowing them to make their own decisions through unbiased guides, FAQs and comparison. The site details deals from every provider in the UK, as well as providing guides about everything from the top 10 smartphones to the best mobile phones under £100.

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