Strong roaming offering, but a middling performance otherwise
- Good value for money on SIM-only
- Free EU roaming
- Dissatisfaction with coverage
- Roaming is pricey outside the EU
Now happily married to Virgin Media, O2 has a long pedigree in the mobile business, dating all the way back to the turn of the century when it was BT Cellnet. In that time, millions of businesses have entrusted their mobile connections to the company, but why should they do so in 2023?
One answer might be value for money. With 80% of customers we surveyed reporting being satisfied with the value they’re getting, O2 secures a Highly Commended award for value in the Expert Reviews Business Mobile Network Awards 2023. And you can begin to understand why when you see that its SIM-only business tariffs start from as little as £10/mth.
O2 posted respectable scores right across the board, but if it wants to climb above Vodafone and EE in our rankings then it has work to do in two areas that are critical for business customers: coverage and reliability. Of the four major networks, O2 had the biggest proportion of customers that were dissatisfied with their coverage by far – more than double the percentage of the next worst provider, in fact.
However, if we assume you’re in an area that has decent coverage, let’s explore what O2 has to offer.
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O2 Business review: What do you get?
With deals starting at just £10/mth, O2’s cheapest SIM-only tariff is £5/mth less than the table-topping EE. That said, it only affords you a mere 1GB of data, so it would be best suited to business customers who want unlimited calls and texts, and not those who spend all day on Zoom calls.
In general, O2’s SIM-only deals are competitively priced, with 100GB of data for £18/mth being a particularly eye-catching deal. However, the deals on popular handsets such as the iPhone 14 and Galaxy S23 are less keenly priced, with rivals offering them with more data at cheaper prices. If you’re determined to stay with O2, it might be worth showing the sales staff the prices that are on offer from other networks – such as EE, for example – and seeing if O2 will match them.
O2 should be commended for the simplicity of its tariffs, with a decent span of data allowances. The company also offers data-only tariffs for businesses looking to give other devices, such as laptops or tablets, mobile connectivity.
It’s also worth noting that O2 offers data rollover on many tariffs, so if you don’t use your full data allowance one month the remainder is carried over to the next.
|Most expensive SIM-only
|Recommended iPhone 14 deal
|Recommended Galaxy S23 deal
|Monthly fee (ex VAT)
|£47.50 + £8 one-off
|£52 + £30 one-off
|The monthly price shown will increase each April by the Retail Price Index rate of inflation plus 3.9%
(* O2 offers data-only SIMs at a slightly cheaper price)
O2 Business review: Customer service
According to our survey, O2’s customer service is just below average for the industry. Although a very respectable 87% of O2 customers are satisfied with the service, that’s still a worse score than both Vodafone (88%) and EE (93%).
Our survey data roughly reflects that of the regulator, Ofcom, whose latest report says that O2 registers four complaints per 100,000 customers, which is above the industry average of three.
O2 Business review: Coverage, reliability and speed
As we mentioned earlier, coverage remains a sore point, at least for the O2 customers we surveyed, with 7.5% of its customers saying they were dissatisfied with the coverage – more than double the level of unhappiness reported at the next worst provider, Three (3.3%).
Coverage and reliability are inextricably linked and here, again, O2 fares relatively poorly with 5.3% reporting that they were unhappy with the network’s reliability. This was the worst score of the four major networks in our test, though, in fairness, it should also be stated that 85% were satisfied.
When it comes to speed, 85% of O2 customers are happy with their lot, which is about average for the four networks.
O2 Business review: Roaming
Roaming is blissfully simple on O2 – at least if you’re travelling in the EU, where you get to use your minutes, texts and data as if you were still back in Blighty. The only exception is if you’re on an unlimited data plan, as you’ll be limited to 35GB while abroad, though this is still a very generous allocation in our view.
Things do get more expensive if you’re travelling outside of Europe. Here, O2 offers Rest of the World 24-Hour Passes, which cost £7.50 per day for 500MB of data, 300 minutes and 300 texts in 96 different destinations. If you’re travelling outside of Europe for long periods, it might make more sense to look for a local SIM than use your O2 contract.
While we’re talking all things international, it’s not roaming, but on selected O2 Small Biz tariffs you do get some inclusive call minutes and texts when placing calls from the UK to the EU. That could prove handy if your business has clients abroad.
O2 Business review: Extras
We mentioned the data rollover above, which is a nice touch if you don’t use all of your monthly data allowance, and might even mean you can stick to a cheaper tariff since the rollover might bail you out on the select months when your data usage is high.
All tariffs also come with free O2 Wi-Fi, which is likely to come in useful at public venues such as cafes and train stations.
O2 Business review: Verdict
O2 puts in a very middle-of-the-road performance in our survey. Gripes about coverage aside, it’s not terrible at anything, but it doesn’t excel in any category either. That said, free EU roaming and other international calling benefits might help business owners with international clients.