Which mobile operator is best in Escrick?

This question arises frequently, and many people offer conflicting opinions. This page tries to explain why different people have different experiences, and provide recent measurements of signal strength.

Network coverage:

Vodafone, O2 and EE all have 2G, 3G and 4G coverage. There is no 5G coverage in Escrick. Three has limited coverage on 3G only

Vodafone and O2 have better coverage on 2G and 3G, but EE has better coverage on 4G.

However, not all phones, nor tariffs, allow voice calls to be sent via the 4G network (see below)

Vodafone, O2 and EE all have masts on Stillingfleet Hill, but only Vodafone and O2 share a mast much closer at the sewage works near the A19.

Signal strength was measured in various locations around the village, and is reported below.

This shows that EE has the strongest 4G coverage, including some coverage in the higher bandwidth 'band 3' frequency range. However, EE has only partial 3G coverage, and poor 2G coverage.

Table 1: Signal strength as measure on 1st July 2021 using Samsung S21 handset
Table 1: Signal strength as measure on 1st July 2021 using Samsung S21 handset. All measurements taken outdoors at street level.
Key to table 1
Key to table 1

Frequency ranges and technologies used:

  • Vodafone and O2 use 900MHz for 2G, this lower frequency performs better, particularly indoors, than the 1800MHz used by EE.
  • All operators use the same 2100MHz frequency for 3G. Vodafone has HSPA+ capabilities, which is about three times faster than the HSUPA used by O2 and EE.
  • All operators now use 800MHz frequency for 4G. Low frequencies like this travel better over longer distances and through walls/buildings. EE also additionally has some coverage on 1800MHz for 4G, which offers higher bandwidths.

4G calling:

Generally in Escrick the 4G coverage is better than 2G and 3G, therefore your experience will depend on your phone and tariff's ability to use the 4G network - particularly if you use a service based on EE's network.

Some old phones do not support 4G at all. If that applies to you, you can ignore this section.

Even if your phone is 4G capable, it might not be possible to make voice calls via the 4G network. This requires a compatible handset, and a tariff that supports '4G calling' (sometimes called VoLTE). Otherwise your phone will revert to the 2G or 3G network to make voice calls, and will only use 4G for data.  This can mean that your phone appears to have coverage (on 4G), but is unable to make/receive voice calls because the 2G/3G coverage is insufficient.

  • EE allows both pay monthly and PAYG customers to use 4G calling.
  • Vodafone and O2  allow their pay monthly customers to make voice calls on their 4G network (providing the phone supports this feature), but do not allow their PAYG customers to use 4G calling.
  • Many of the 'virtual network operators' (e.g. TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin, etc) do not support 4G calling on any tariff (pay monthly or PAYG)

WiFi calling:

Some handsets and tariffs allow voice calls to be made via your home WiFi network.  This can be useful if you have good WiFi but poor mobile reception. (If your WiFi is not robust, however, it can make things worse).

As with 4G calling, this is not available on all tariffs, and requires a compatible handset. In most cases, it also requires enabling in your phone's settings.

  • EE allows both pay monthly and PAYG customers to use WiFi calling.
  • Vodafone and O2 all allow their pay monthly customers to use 'WiFi calling', but not their PAYG customers.
  • EE and Vodafone allow text messages to be sent/received when using WiFi calling, but O2 does not.
  • Many of the 'virtual network operators' (e.g. TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin, etc) do not support WiFi calling on any tariff (pay monthly or PAYG). See this list for details.


  • Finally it is worth giving some consideration to network congestion - you might have a strong signal, but if the network is congested, you might still get slow speeds.  Anecdotal evidence suggests this isn’t a problem on any of the 4G networks in Escrick at present.

What about other networks?

Other networks are essentially resellers, using capacity of one of the above four networks. Remember, however, they tend not to support 4G calling and WiFi calling, so may have worse performance in practice.

See this listof virtual network operators, the physical network they use, and support for WiFi calling.

But I used to be on O2, and it wasn't very good...

O2's mast at the sewage farm was only added around ~ 2015 - prior to then, coverage was noticeably worse than Vodafone.

But I used to be on EE, and it wasn't very good...

EE only migrated their 4G coverage to the 'better' 800MHz frequency in summer 2018 - prior to that coverage was poor. The move to 800MHz has significantly improved 4G coverage for those with suitable phones.

I hear conflicting reviews from different people regarding which network is best....

4G capabilities make a key difference to coverage in Escrick, so it is worth noting the section above regarding 4G calling. If different people are getting significantly different experience on the same network, this may well be the cause.  (Of course, coverage does vary across the village too, and not all handsets are equal either).

(This page is based on publicly available information as at June 2021 - inevitably things will change over time - so always check before you buy)

Related pages: Broadband in Escrick