Mobile Phone Networks

Discover which are the United Kingdom’s Tier 1 mobile phone networks and which of the most popular Tier 2 mobile phone networks use their infrastructure to make calls and send data.

On this page, we highlight each tier of mobile phone network (believe it or not they are not all equal), and how eco or environmentally friendly they are. Even if your mobile phone provider seems clean enough, if they use a Tier 1 supplier who isn’t currently interested in saving our planet, your mobile phone plan might not be as green as you think.

You can also skip this page and just get the latest deals from the most environmentally friendly mobile phone networks in the UK.

Tier 1 Mobile Phone Networks

Tier 1 mobile phone networks are the major mobile phone networks in the UK who have ben issued lisences by the government to own and operate radio telecommunications equipment on.

All other mobile phone networks in the UK must partner with one of these four Tier 1 mobile phone network providers. Also anyone coming from abroad using the roaming feature on their phone will automatically be connected to their home network’s British partner In theory, you could be living green in your home country, come to the UK and become a contributor to global warming.

Below is a table of British Tier 1 mobile phone networks including their green pledges on carbon neutrality. If you must use any of the networks without a carbon pledge, please consider doing something to mitigate it.

EEOwned by large telecommunications provider British Telecom, EE was formed in 2010.No target
O2O2 took on its current brand name in 2002 after previously being known as Cellnet, then BT Cellnet. They are now onwned by spanish telecomunications giant Telefónica.Net-zero
by 2025
VodafoneFamous for being one of the biggest mobile communications companies in the UK for several years, Vodafone made themselves a household name sponsoring sports teams like Manchester United and the McLaren Formula 1 racing team.Net-zero
by 2050
ThreeBursting onto the schene with offers surrounding the laungh of 3G in the UK, Three mobile network have always offered fantastic deals and an alternative brand voice to the often stuffy and formal approach taken by the other three Tier 1 network providers.No Target

Tier 2 Mobile Phone Networks

Every Tier 2 mobile phone network must rely on a provider in Tier 1 who own and operate the equipment required for us to make calls.

Pie chart Tier 2 Networks Supported Tier 1 Networks
Number of Tier 2 networks each Tier 1 mobile network supplies services to in the UK.

The table below contain the Tier 1 supplier and the Tier 2 mobile networks who rely on them to provide their services so you can make an informed decision.

Who do the Tier 2 mobile network suppliers purchase their services from?

Asda MobileVodafoneNO
ID MobileThreeNO
Plusnet MobileEENO
Sky MobileO2NO
Tesco MobileO2NO
Utility WarehouseEENO
Virgin MobileEENO

Carbon Neutral Status

Here are some projections for each network’s carbon neutral status over time based on their pledges to become carbon neutral.

UK mobile phone network carbon neutral projection chart
This cart is a simulated projection and does not accurately represent the exact yearly targets of each network.

As it stands today, only O2, will be net zero by 2025, with a further 25 year wait until Vodafone finally makes it there. That means by 2025, only 23% of the most well known mobile phone contract suppliers in the UK will be carbon neutral. In 2050, it will still be less than 50% at things stand today.

polluting mobile phone networks vs net zero UK

Hopefully more environmentally friendly or carbon neutral mobile phone contract suppliers pop up in Tier 2 and offset their own emissions including those they create with their Tier 1 supplier. We also need EE and Three to come up with their carbon pledges ASAP. We’re sure they must be working on them.

Hopefully progress can happen much sooner than 2050, becauase we’re facing a climate emergency. Mobile phone use probably isn’t going to push us over the edge, but we all need to play our part.

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Now you are more aware the UK mobile phone networks impact on the environment, you can make a more informed decision about the network you go with.