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O2 was formed in 1985 by John Carrington when it was known as Cellnet. It was a venture between BT and Securicor but by 1999 BT bought out the rest of the company and rebranded itself as BT Cellnet. In June 2002, the company was rebranded to O2 and in 2005 they were acquired by Telefónica in a £17.7 billion deal.

O2 is the second-largest mobile telecommunications provider in the United Kingdom and several virtual networks use its infrastructure including Giffgaff and Tesco Mobile.

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O2 review

O2 tariffs are priced pretty similarly to the other main mobile networks although they are certainly at the pricier end of the spectrum. Especially when compared to the cheaper virtual mobile networks, they seem to offer pretty poor value for money. They do offer a good text bundle on the Simplicity tariff though.

But what about the quality of the network? They have a reliable 2G network that has excellent reception in the UK but unfortunately their 3G network only covers 80% of the country. This makes them probably the worst network in the UK for data especially as they don’t offer any unlimited data deals. Further investment in their high speed network is definitely needed. Even worse than this, the PAYG customers have a crippled data connection as, compared to the contract customers, the data speeds are highly throttled.

Their customer service seems to vary but they have several high street stores which is useful in choosing a phone or for sorting out problems. They do have plenty of options for PAYG tariffs so even though they are pricey, you should be able to find something that is suitable for you. They are also known for throwing in freebies to established customers.

Overall, O2 have a wide range of tariffs available but unfortunately they are all quite expensive compared to their competition. Also, if you plan to use 3G data a lot, check their coverage in your area as their 3G network is relatively poor.

PAYG Pricing

At a glance

Calls: 35pTexts: 12p Data: £1/day (100MB)MMS: 25p0800: 15p0870: 25p


O2 is one of the most expensive networks in the UK. The PAYG prices are 35p/minute for calls and their texts are the dearest at 12p each. Even internet is £1/day (although you do get a 100MB allowance for this) and they charge 15p/minute for 0800 calls. Even the bolt-ons are a poor value for money with 50 texts costing £4/month (that’s still 8p each, double Giffgaff’s normal rate) or £4.99/month for a 50% discount to three numbers of your choice.

However, the SIM-only deals on O2 are better value and even offer unlimited texts. To see more, check out their website and order free O2 SIMs directly from them.


However, O2 does offer some tempting deals on a few of their tariffs. For example, if you top-up £15 on O2 Unlimited you get unlimited calls and unlimited texts but only to other O2 customers. Giffgaff offer this free of charge but obviously don’t have as many users as O2.

Alternatively, the Simplicity rate gives you unlimited texts for only £7.50 a month which is great for high-volume SMS users. Another tempting deal they offer is unlimited calls to O2 mobiles and UK landlines from a chosen postcode but you do have to pay £30/month to qualify.

Price comparison

Check out our conclusive price comparison table to compare O2‘s latest pricing with that of other mobile networks.



2G coverage: 99%3G coverage: 98%4G coverage: 78%

Coverage map

Please see the our O2 coverage page to learn about the network coverage in your area. For more information, compare it with other mobile phone networks’ coverage.


Give your own rating to O2 below:

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Rating: 3.8/5 (41 votes cast)
O2, 3.8 out of 5 based on 41 ratings
by Jon M

28 Responses to “O2

  1. Jess 23 September 2016 at 07:48 Permalink

    Absolute joke and waste of time. I have been trying to get my phone unlocked for the past 11 days. I took a contract out with three unaware my phone was locked to o2. I phoned o2 to get it unlocked and was told it would take up to 72 hours. I have phoned up every day since then and am always told ‘another 24 hours’. I have been promised a call back 4 times and never had one. Everyone always just claims there is nothing they can do. I have been hung up on twice. No one seems to be able to transfer a call as the call has been dropped numerous times trying to transfer to different departments. Absolute waste of time trying to talk to them. Going to have to resort to buying a new iPhone at this point just because these useless w*****s can’t do a simple job.

  2. K 16 June 2016 at 18:17 Permalink

    They’re a complete mess. Tried to set up some business contracts, now have twice as many as I wanted, and billed it to me personally instead of to the company. Tried for 3 weeks to get it fixed, both their hotline and online help is unusable. Trying to cancel everything now, also not going great. Hit yourself in the face with a rock if you’re thinking of signing up with them, it’s much less painful.

  3. Baz 5 February 2016 at 09:19 Permalink

    I will give them lower than 0 if I can. Worst service, Low and no service,App is worst than their service. Avoid on any cost

  4. sylvia 17 October 2014 at 08:58 Permalink

    No not messed it up yet,As my payment this time was early,Will see what happens next month,And no compensation,I asked about that but said they couldn’t do anything,Think they are fed up of me always giving them an hard time,Be glad to get rid of me,But i am justified.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 17 October 2014 at 15:06 Permalink

      It’s worth pushing for compensation – they usually give you something.

      • Sylvia 17 October 2014 at 15:48 Permalink

        Thank you, but just fed up now,Trying to get throught to anyone is to stressing, I have just seen in the paper today,That a young girl was getting taxed from her gran,The family had buried her mobile phone with her,the son had asked if he could buy the number but they said there was no need it would not go to anyone else,But O2 did sell it on to another company,The grandaughter sent text to the number just as a way of coping as her gran loved texting,But was freaked out when she got a reply,And other messages,They have found the culprit but it is O2 to blame once again.

  5. Daiva 16 September 2014 at 12:31 Permalink

    I will give them 0 stars is just so so so disappointing !! My bill was from 12 to 80 pound and they were saying is my fault!
    I have free 100 min and ect, but I haven’t received even one message from people. I try to deal with O2 about it and in the end they told me so you can leave O2, because we can do nothing about it!! And the point is : I can not check my bill because I’m not getting any messages, I can not change my O2 account because I’m not getting any messages. And then I got my bill.. from 12 pounds to 80, can you believe that? And why ? Because I’m not getting any messages and they don’t know how to fix it and My bill was so hight! Guys! Really .. better go with any other network! Do not even try to go with O2! I’m being with them 2 years or more.. I had enough !!

  6. Dickie 17 June 2014 at 23:28 Permalink

    I recently can home to the uk I had two unlocked iPhones and wanted data more than phone. I went to the kidderminster o2 store and they gave me a fair rate 1 gig for £15 and plenty of calls and texts. We were I going to be in Devon and again I reminded them I needed data coverage. This is where their deceptive practices came to the for. They showed me a 2G coverage map and said you will be fine no problems.
    On arriving at our destination in Devon I turn on cell and have little or no phone and absolutely no data. I went into the Barnstable store in Devon and they tell me we only really have 2g coverage in Devon. That brings up the question why are they putting stores and selling phones in an area where there is no coverage?
    They suggested I phone customer service on a landline . When I said I don’t have one that’s why I bought O2 it appeared to be a point of confusion. Maybe all O2 customers should be switching back to landlines because of the poor coverage?
    They allowed me to phone customer service I repeated the above story reaffirming it was the data I wanted and need. The representatives answer was she would take the data off and credit my sim for £15 . I explained I would only probably make 20 calls and even fewer texts in the 6 weeks I am in England and I again needed data. Her answer to this was “what do you want to do?” No help …
    This whole experience of the baiting and switching coverage and buyer beware has left a bad taste in my mouth with o2 I would never recommend anyone in the Southwest of England to use their service.
    I looked this morning on T mobile and they appear to have much better 3G or 4 G coverage I will be switching at the end of month of having no phone coverage thanks to the crooks at O2

  7. James 18 February 2014 at 20:39 Permalink

    Very poor customer service!
    Been lied to by many members of there customer service team including some managers. Not had any problems with any other phone company I have used in the many years I have had contracts. I also keep losing signal in high coverage areas but o2 don’t seem concerned in the slightest with my lack of signal.

  8. Hunaid 30 December 2013 at 16:39 Permalink

    O2 I have found is really lacking the Customer Service that one is used to being with them and the companies before them that they have bought for MANY years now.
    I recently upgraded with O2 got a CRAP contract no value for money.
    When I called to upgrade the advisor in a very cheerful voice confirmed that the phone was in stock and can be delivered next day anytime before 1700.
    It’s been a week now and everytime I call to check when the phone will arrive they tell me it was out of stock however they have had new delivery and its back in stock and should be delivered shortly.
    I have had MANY a lenghty chat with several advisors and all seem to be programmed like robots to say ” we are sorry and can understand your position, however now that the phone is back in stock it will be delivered to you shortly. You will receieve an email with date of delivery soon. ”
    At no time has a Supervisor ot Manager bothered to pick up the phone and tell me as to what is happening with my order.
    I subsequently have cancelled my order and hope to find a better service provider who understands the meaning of Customer Service and above all Customer Loyality.

    If Mr Carrington ever get to read reviews of his company I strongly suggest he has a VERY good chat to his Customer Services team and perhaps ask them to behave more like humans than robots.

    • Sylvia 14 October 2014 at 15:23 Permalink

      I whole heatedly agree.I will leave O2 when I find a good signal for where I lives itch another provider,Even Bt broadband is slow here.

  9. maxsoundcaraudio uk 25 December 2013 at 18:14 Permalink

    O2 have to be the most useless company EVER ! It`s not the signal that`s the issue in most cases but the awful customer service and very high prices of tariffs .I was with o2 for a year and the customer service I must say was CRAP , along with over priced tariffs and NO customer loyalty deals what so ever either ? I found out that Tesco mobile run off the back of o2 so I contacted Tesco mobile and not only was there customer service 100% better there tariffs were half the price of o2 ( 4000 text , 1000 anytime , any network mins , 1gb data just £10.00 a month ) so how does that work o2 eh ? mmm I wonder ? Anyway I`m with Tesco mobile now and very happy with there customer service and virtually no waiting time to speak to a customer adviser ( unlike o2`s half hour wait every time ) O2`s signal to be fair is all ok on average but as for everything else forget just go with Tesco Mobile for sure .Thank you.

  10. russ 30 November 2013 at 14:53 Permalink

    ive had a problem this morning with o2 top-up not crediting my wifes phone after the £15 was taken from my account, the bank has confirmed this with a transaction id. 2 hours of phone calls and im now waiting for a manager to call me back, but the way ive been dealt with so far im not expecting a call.
    The “customers service” advisors are the most incompetent patronising and unproffesional i have ever dealt with. i have a contract with o2 as well and have been for 10 years which will definately stop at the and of the contract.
    phone service and reception is also very poor and mobile internet is poor at best, IF i can get a signal.

    • Sylvia 14 October 2014 at 15:18 Permalink

      I paid off my phone to lower my tariff,that is all I wanted,I repeated myself over and over again to the O2 girl dealing with it,I said I didn’t want to leave,Then I got an e-mail to say I had to pay £177 to leave,I explained again,just paid £84 for my phone don’t want to leave,They had sent for payment to my bank for direct debit,I had to go stop it and get back to them,They said fine all will be ok now,Then I got barred,And told I had to pay arrears £155,got it sorted again as I was going on holiday and needed my phone, tried to use my phone last day of my holiday,Guess what Barred again,This time for my tariff £11.29,this was on the 10 th of this month,I said I was fed up as was on my home phone for 40 minutes trying to get through,Asked how much to leave,Told over £200,how could it go up as time was passing not increasing.Then I got someone else,She said one months tariff as I had paid for my phone,Who do I trust,Could be different again next time,And who as a signal better than O2,friends where I live have problems,I don’t.

    • Mobile Network Comparison 14 October 2014 at 19:48 Permalink

      Did you ever get it sorted?

      • Sylvia 14 October 2014 at 20:07 Permalink

        Was blocked because they said I was in arrears,But I wasn’t, monthly payment isn’t due until 21st of this month,But while on the phone I paid it early,Even though the were unblocking it,Every time they say sorry,So who knows could happen again,I have lost faith in them,Just want to leave,But frightened I won’t get a good signal,Had a look at vodaphone on tesco but they are in with O2. And also not sure how much I have to pay to leave,last person said one months tariff.

  11. john hollyman 12 July 2013 at 19:34 Permalink

    dear sir,i have had a £7.50 a month talkmobile contract now for 8 or 9 months,after being persuaded by carphone wharehouse staff that the network signal in our area is brilliant. great so far so good ,my low usage and samsung galaxy ace which is an amazing phone for internet and facebook usage there is only one problem, i cant make phone calls ( no network coverage sign keeps popping up)and i cant send text mesages unless i walk around the garden waving the phone around my head like some kind of idiot, i wish i hadnt taken out this rubbish contract , my old network 02 worked ok but this one certainly doesnt. can anyone advise?
    all i want to do is make phone calls? ive had no help whatsoever from the shop and been back many times within the 2 weeks specified to alter the contract, and since. i know i can pay the remainder of the contract off but why should i its not my fault the network coverage is poor,
    I will certainly not reccomend talkmobile to anyone in the future or the carphone wharehouse shop.
    regards jh

    • Mobile Network Comparison 18 July 2013 at 15:14 Permalink

      If they specifically told you that the network would be fine and you took the contract out on that basis you have the right to complain. Point out that they are in breach of contract and request that it be cancelled with immediate effect.

  12. mahim ghoshall 6 February 2012 at 19:40 Permalink

    just got a sim card from o2 called o2 unlimited or something where the international calls are dead cheap india mobiles and landline 1pence and bangladesh 3 pence per minute when i topped up £10 per month i also get unlimited texts to o2 or if i spend over £15 a month or more that includes unlimited calls to o2 mobiles PERFECT!! nearly everyone i know is on o2 well done to them for bringing this tariff out, and as for being overcharged?? Hell no not one penny is missing at all!

  13. G Green 18 January 2012 at 19:11 Permalink

    I have been with O2 for several years. Their customer service is exceptionally good. On the few rare times when I’ve needed to call their call centre I have got through quickly and found I was speaking to someone who was easy to understand and intelligent. Sadly, this is all too rare with other companies.

  14. mahim ghoshall 12 January 2012 at 18:34 Permalink

    i top up £10 per month and i get 300 texts and 500mb included not bad, do not like the whole 25 pence per minute for the first 3 minutes per day for calls to o2 and local/national numbers then 5p per minute there after and 25p per minute to other mobiles

  15. Wyatt 14 May 2011 at 17:29 Permalink

    Big follower of this page, a ton of your articles or blog posts have definitely helped me out. Looking towards up-dates!

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