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Networks that use EE: the best piggybacking providers ranked

EE logo with a mobile mast

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We rank the mobile providers who use EE's network from best to worst in terms of coverage, speeds and plans they offer. Last updated: 10th May 2022.

In our guide

Get access to EE’s brilliant network without the costs

A network mast, EE logo and SIM card

EE’s network, another network’s SIMsSkip to the networks

When reviewing the EE network, we said they had the best overall mix of coverage of all the UK networks. Their call signal isn’t astounding, but their 4G/5G coverage makes up for it. But that quality can come with a price tag..

Before you write EE off entirely, do check their SIM only deals below (we often have hidden improved offers). Or for phone contracts, see our comparison here, which includes retailers with better deals on EE.

But if that cost is a dealbreaker for you, or if you’d rather get some different benefits to what EE offer, you might be better off joining on a cheaper provider that use EE’s masts to provide signal.

In this guide, we look at which networks you can join and how their speeds, coverage, benefits and plans differ from being on EE directly.

Skip to: Networks on EE | SIM only plans | Phone contracts

Who uses EE?

BT Mobile: very similar to being directly on EE

Screenshot of BT's coverage checker

The same 5G/4G/3G coverage as EECheck for yourself

at BT.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Get EE’s 5G/4G/3G and 2G coverage
Green plus sign Lower costs than on EE
Green plus sign Some brilliant extras like WiFi hotspots

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Very few phone contracts offered

We’ve tested it out and we can say for certain that BT offer the same coverage as EE (not every provider does as you’ll see further down). We said as much in our BT Mobile vs EE guide.

And you'll now get access to 5G data too on every plan with BT Mobile. We also believe that the old 30 Mbps speed cap on BT is gone. Their WiFi calling is as good as EE's too. And they have much better free hotspots.

For network quality and features, BT are a good choice. And they include some extra benefits. They offer .a handy EU roaming scheme (while EE have got rid of theirs) and BT’s Family plans are genuinely impressive

And that's before we've mentioned price. On SIM only, BT Mobile are almost always better value than EE, particularly for smaller data amounts. For phone contracts though, BT's range is a little thin on the ground.

Prices here are for people who have BT broadband:

Add to that the fact that BT broadband customers get £5 off any SIM only or phone contract and BT’s value only goes up. Even if you don’t have their broadband, they’re a cheaper option than EE. BT are an excellent alternative overall.

Useful link: Read our full BT Mobile network review

1pMobile: the cheapest pay as you go on the EE network

Screenshot of 1pMobile's coverage map

The same signal coverage as being on EESee for yourself

at 1pmobile.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Get full access to EE’s 5G/4G/3G/2G
Green plus sign Cheapest pay as you go rates in the UK
Green plus sign Extra network features like WiFi calling

What we don't like:
Red minus sign £10 minimum top up requirement every 120 days
Red minus sign Data can get expensive on pay as you go

EE don’t offer a proper pay as you go scheme, that lets you top up with credit to pay for your phone usage per minute, text and MB of data. You can buy monthly bundles, but that’s it.

Network-wise, 1pMobile use EE's full network off the shelf. You'll get the same coverage for 2G, 3G, 4G and even 5G. 1pMobile also now even have advanced features like WiFi calling.

And they offer all of this while at the same time having the cheapest pay as you go tariff in the UK:

But the rate of 1p per MB of data can get expensive if you even just a moderate data user (1GB=£10). In that case 1p now also offer a couple of pretty great value pay monthly plans:

There aren’t a lot of different deals available, but the deals they do offer make them the cheapest way onto EE's 5G network. Otherwise, they’re also the best choice for pay as you go.

Useful link: Our full network review of 1pMobile

Plusnet Mobile: still typically the cheapest pay monthly network on EE

Screenshot of Plusnet's coverage checker

They do miss out on 5GCheck near you

at plus.net
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Very cheap SIM deals
Green plus sign Offer rolling 1-month contracts
Green plus sign No speed caps

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Coverage isn’t exactly the same as on EE
Red minus sign No WiFi calling, 4G calling or 5G

With 1pMobile bringing out their new monthly deals, Plusnet are no longer the only way to get onto EE with a super-cheap pay monthly deal. But they are still a great value option in our eyes.

They offer mostly 1-month SIM only plans, with no real added features, just coverage through EE (2G, 3G, 4G only) and that's it.

If you’re already a Plusnet broadband customer you can get an extra 2GB on top of your plan. Otherwise you can get these plans here:

For value, these pay monthly plans can actually work out as even better than 1p’s monthly deals, especially with the broadband customer data boost they offer. Their 1-month contracts aren’t quite as flexible, however.

From a network point of view though, being on Plusnet isn't quite identical to EE. They're on an older virtual operator system from the days of Orange and T-Mobile, with some 4G bands that you can't access.

These tend to be the ones that boost capacity in the cities and boost coverage in rural areas, so you might notice a difference. While there’s no speed cap on Plusnet, they don’t offer 5G. And 4G calling and WiFi calling are also missing.

Useful link: Read our full Plusnet Mobile review

To The Moon Mobile: very sparse in terms of benefits

Screenshot of TTM mobile coverage checker

You don’t get the full 4G experienceCheck local signal

at tothemoonmobile.com
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Lots of plans to choose from
Green plus sign No speed limits

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Coverage isn’t the same as EE
Red minus sign Missing WiFi calling, 4G calling and 5G

Now we get onto the networks that don’t offer the same network experience as being on EE, as well as missing some key features on top of that. The first of such networks are To The Moon Mobile (TTM).

Like Plusnet Mobile, TTM are also missing 5G data, some of the 4G signal bands and they don't have features like WiFi calling or 4G calling. It's not the same experience as EE directly. There's no speed cap at least.

But while Plusnet make up for the lack of features with great value deals, TTM don’t. Looking at their confusing website then you’ll see there’s a massive combination of deals that make finding the best value deal overly complicated:

They’re not a bad network if you can find a deal that suits you. But there’s typically better value available on networks with more features.

Useful link: See To The Moon's website

IQ Mobile: one more provider on EE thin on features

IQ Mobile website screenshot

The same network experience as being on EERead about IQ

at helloiq.co.uk
(opens in a new window)

What we like:
Green plus sign Same signal coverage as EE

What we don't like:
Red minus sign Fairly middle of the road prices
Red minus sign Odd 3-month plans

The last network on this list are IQ Mobile, a network we think most people haven’t even heard of. But they offer the same network experience as being on EE directly, and even offer 5G.

They offer a range of SIM cards, which are pre-paid for 3 months at a time. It's an odd way of going about things and we're not sure who this will appeal to - IQ say families.

In any case, we don’t think the price-tag is warranted considering what they offer. We imagine EE’s prices make it more difficult for smaller providers (MVNO) to use their network, hence the less than impressive prices.

Useful link: See IQ Mobile plans

Providers that used to use EE’s network

Virgin Mobile logoASDA Mobile logoTPO Mobile logo

These providers are no longer on the EE network

There have been a handful of other providers that have used EE’s network in the past, but have moved on to piggyback off different ones.

We don't think this is a result of them deciding better networks were available but more a commercial decision to get cheaper rates elsewhere.

No doubt the biggest network to move off EE are Virgin Mobile. When BT (Virgin’s biggest rival for broadband) bought EE, the relationship between EE and Virgin inevitably broke down. That’s partly why Virgin now use Vodafone.

ASDA Mobile also did something similar. They moved all their customers over to Vodafone.

If you’ve never heard of The People’s Operator, it’s because they’re a now defunct brand. But they used to be on Three’s network after having moved from EE. And a few other small brands have come and gone as well.

SIM only plans on EE-based networks

SIM only plans

Compare SIMs from providers that piggyback on EE

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Networks

Providers:

Three logo
ASDA logo
BT Mobile logo
EE logo
giffgaff logo
Honest logo
ID logo
IQ logo
Lebara logo
O2 logo
Plusnet logo
Sky logo
SMARTY logo
Talkmobile logo
Tesco logo
Virgin Mobile logo
Vodafone logo
VOXI logo

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Phone contracts on EE-based networks

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We include third parties selling EE contracts

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Manufacturer:

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Networks

Providers:

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