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I was hoping maybe some of our readers from the UK could describe what choosing a carrier is like in the UK. Most of the time I see UK residents relieved that their carrier relations aren't like that of the US. Here we have to choose a carrier and then pick from their selection of devices. Over there don't you all buy a device then choose a carrier?

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The US carriers are largely CDMA. Verizon, Sprint, and literally every other company outside of ATT and T-Mobile use CDMA. What this means is that only certain phones are able to work on their networks. The phones have to be carrier approved basically.


ATT, T-Mobile, and most UK carriers use GSM technology. SIM card technology. Most phone work on their networks and usually the hardest part is just putting your SIM card in a new phone when your done with the old one.


Also UK carriers use contracts a lot less. People are more inclined to buy the device outright and same money in the long long versus being tied down to a two year contract, (three years in Canada)

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All uk networks/carriers are GSMbased and use sim cards.


typical deals are as follows

sim only - you provide the hardware ouitright and a carrier/opperator of your choice provdes the serivice via a sim card in your phone, this can be a pre pay/pay as you go service or a contract service with bundled minutes/sms/data.

pre pay sim cards for various netowrks can be purchased form quite a few shops for as little as £1 or ordered free of charge from the phone network.


Pre pay subsidised, you pay for the phone and its on a pre pay service these phones are often locked to one provider and will only work with the sim card from that provider


contract/subsidised phone, you sign up to a ( typicaly ) 24 month contract deal,  in most cases you pay nothing for the handset outright, but pay roughly £35 ( in the case of a high end device) over the period of 24 monthsthese almpost aways come iwht bundled data/minutes/sms etc.


Competion is fierce and carriers will often have offers to attract customers  (such as free android tablets etc)

the mian carriers that exist in the UK are ( currently)


3 (three)






on top of that there are also a load of virtual opperators that by capacity in bulk form the main opperators/carriers.


edit: UK mpobile (cell ) phones have their own dialing prefix, and always start with the number 07 so for example a UK mobile phone number will be 07123456789



further edit


Also UK carriers use contracts a lot less. People are more inclined to buy the device outright

 this is only true for low end  phones purchased on pay as you go deals ( pre pay) , for the more exensive phones  a two year contract is standard.

 you can buy a phone outright, unlocked to work on any network, but its not always the cheapest way of doing things


A Samusng Galaxy s4 would cost £35 per month all in on a 24 month contract, coming in at £840

buy it outright, unlocked and it will cost £449 add to that a sim only deal at  say £18 per month ( 1 month contract ) will give a price of £881, plus no free gifts


If you want a decent top of the range handset £35 per month is easier to swallow than £450 or so up front.

Edited by 2pints
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