If anyone else is suffering poor internet coverage from giffgaff, you might like to hear my story.
I recently moved out of London to a town with poor reception for EE/T-mobile (my mobile provider since 2001). After some research and talking to locals I decided that O2 would provide the best signal. Trying to be clever I decided to give giffgaff a go - I like the idea, I like the efficient model, I like the price (don't we all?!).
Phone reception is brilliant, but internet is patchy at best at home. It is on the train to work (Cambridge line into London) that I noticed the real difference. The phone often wouldn't provide any data at all, and when it did it was slow, even when the signal showed 3G and five bars of reception. This was far worse than the reception EE had provided on the same journey.
Is it the O2 network? I knew EE claimed to have the best coverage, perhaps this was just par for the O2 course? I looked at lots of posts on the giffgaff boards - some say that O2 customers get priority, others deny this and suggest various changes to settings, re-settings, re-starting phone, etc, which is meant to help giffgaff connect to the internet.
I tried pretty much all of them, and occasionally it seemed to work doing the manual network search, but it still fell far short of what I needed. Having wasted a great deal of time during my train journeys when I would like to be working, I decided to get an O2 sim.
I have since carried out some tests. One in a busy area of a city, presumably with a number of transmitter options, and another in the middle of nowehere in Bedfordshire (presumably with limited transmitters and only two bars of signal).
I am not technically clever, I simply shared my internet connection and tethered my laptop (as I do on the train), alternately with the giffgaff and O2 sims. Now, those who are technically clever will be able to tell us the true meaning of this, but from my point of view the results speak for themselves.
Sitting on Cmabridge railway station on a Thursday afternoon, I ran the test at http://www.broadband.co.uk/broadband-speed-test/ three times on each sim alternately.
Average score for giffgaff:
Average score for O2:
Sitting today in Cranfield, Bedfordshire:
Average score for giffgaff
Average score for O2
Would I be correct in interpreting that as saying O2 is many times faster than giffgaff (for downloads), same phone, same place, same time? It certainly feels that way when using the tethered laptop on the internet.
I guess it boils down to getting what one pays for.