Getting a local SIM in the UK

May 14th, 2016, 03:32 AM
  #1  
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Getting a local SIM in the UK

Hi.

I am travelling next weekend to the UK for 2 weeks and will spend time all over England and Scotland

I land at Heathrow terminal 4 on the 21st at 11:30 am and then I have a train to Edinburgh Waverley at 4 pm from Kings Cross. I plan to travel by tube from the airport to Kings Cross station - i believe Picadilly Line runs straight

I have an unlocked phone and I plan to buy a local prepaid SIM with data for use over the 2 weeks - Since I plan to use Google maps etc and I will be on the road a lot, I will probably use a fair amount of data (2-4 GB)

What is a good SIM for me to buy? And more importantly, what is a convenient place for me to pick it up? Heathrow? Kings Cross? Or will i have to wait till i reach Edinburgh?

I can see there is an outlet of SimLocal at 3 arrival terminals at Heathrow, but unfortunately not at Terminal 4

Appreciate any suggestions
diptiraman is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 05:03 AM
  #2  
 
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First, THANK YOU for providing sufficient detail.

Three mobile offers PAYG SIMs with very reasonable data plans. Infact they have a £20 bundle that gets you Three has a 12GB, 300min, 3000 text and it good for 30 days. There is a Three store in the Kingsland Shopping Centre which is less than a mile from Kings Cross so you can reach it in a 15 min walk.

http://www.kingslandshopping.com/sto...s.asp?eid=1151

Provided there are no issues with the tube, you can easily pop into there and get a SIM and perhaps a quick bite.
sparkchaser is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 05:10 AM
  #3  
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Thanks.

It would probably be a little inconvenient to walk 15 minutes to a shopping center With my luggage.

Had read that i could get SIMs at almost any newsagent in the UK - was hoping could find one at Kings Cross itself or at heathrow. Not possible?
diptiraman is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 05:30 AM
  #4  
 
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Yes, definitely possible. You should little problem finding a place at Kings Cross or the adjacent St Pancras shopping center.
sparkchaser is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:06 AM
  #5  
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Thank you
diptiraman is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:07 AM
  #6  
 
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The main network providers are Vodaphone, EE, O2 and Three

So if you see any branches of the above on your travels, between plane and train, just pop in. The downside of buying in a local newsagent or less well known shop (either at Heathrow or Kings Cross) is that you may not get the best deal.

Carphone Warehouse offer SIMS and packages for all of the above, but you'll likely have to wait until Edinburgh to get to a convenient branch.

www.carphonewarehouse.com

As a side issue I assume you have a reason for taking the train and not flying to Edinburgh from LHR?
sofarsogood is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:43 AM
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Several points to be considered even though the basics have been covered above. The four main networks have very similar plans and since the language of the UK is English which is very closely related to American, you can read up on the various web site (use co.uk insteadd of .com hence vodafone would be vodafone.co.uk etc.) I know I got a vodafone sim card so I would know the number off of ebay for less than $4 (the sim cards are free in the UK...I paid 99p for the card but postage brought it up to what I paid but unfortunately, vodafone does not allow me to top up with a non UK credit card (absolutely ridiculous but that's the way it is). I put in for their international plan (calls to the USA are 1.5 p each minute) and when I top up upon arrival with £10 I will get 500 mb of data, 150 minutes of UK calls and a lot of UK texts without eating into the £10. For £15, I would get 1 gb of data and more UK minutes. This is good for 30 days and should be enough for you considering of couse that many hotels offer wifi and won't eat into your data allotment as do many Starbucks, Mickey D, pret a manger and other places. Unless something very unusual is going on, 1 gb of data should suffice for two weeks (you can always purchase more data at very reasonable rates). Similar plans are offered by O2, EE, 3. You can research the nuances.

The caveat, though, is just because you have an unlocked phone, you have to check if it will have the LTE bands for 4g data which differ by country. One web site I use is willmyphonework.net where I put in the phone model (which can be a little tricky as just as an example, the samsung 6 has different modes for North America and various other places). Otherwise you might be stuck with the slightly slower 3g. Also, I feel duty bound to mention that some of the US carriers now allow roaming in Europe for fairly low rates. The best is T Mobile USA which has unlimited 2g data (yes it may be too slow, I get that), unlimited texts and unlimited voice both making and receiving with the calls being 20¢/minute (timed up to the nearest minute). The advantage there is calls come in on your US number.

Lots of options especially if you wish to do a bit of research on the web sites even though it may be somewhat complicated. Another possibility is Lebara.UK. Often times you will see people hawking these sim cards at LHR. You can check out their web site for specifics. The good news, UK coverage on all the networks is excellent and like I said above, you can actually talk to the networks to get assistance and there's a good chance you will be able to communicate.
xyz123 is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:44 AM
  #8  
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Thank you. I will keep a lookout for a vendor as suggested by you. Otherwise I will look for a carphonewarehouse at Edinburgh

Reason for train - connections from India to Edinburgh were not too good and were also very expensive
diptiraman is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:51 AM
  #9  
 
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Mea culpa...I assumed you were from the USA...I do that too often. My apologies although the information regarding UK sim cards is correct; scratch the information about USA stuff available today. My apologies.

One thing I didn't mention. Another nice thing about UK PAYG sim cards is no registration is necessary. Pop the sim card into the phone, top up and you're set to go.
xyz123 is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 06:55 AM
  #10  
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great. thanks
diptiraman is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 11:04 AM
  #11  
 
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I'd like to add my own question here. I'm going to be in rural Northern Ireland for two weeks in July. One of the cottages we'll be renting for the week, in Tyrone, about 10 miles south of Omagh, has no wifi, although there is wifi in the visitors centre. I saw a review of the cottage on TA, which mentioned that cell service wasn't great in the area either.

I've read that EE has the best nationwide coverage in the UK. I have a good data roaming plan for my Italian cell phone, but my daughters from the US don't. I would probably put the SIM card in a spare phone I have and use it only to tether our various devices, especially for that first week.

Does anyone know anything about coverage in this part of Northern Ireland? Is it true that Ee has the best coverage, and, if so, does that also hold for Northern Ireland?

Thanks for any advice.
bvlenci is offline  
May 14th, 2016, 02:00 PM
  #12  
 
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OFCOM has a coverage checker

http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/check-coverage

If you select the network operator, then 4G you can get a predicted overview of coverage. It seems EE and vodaphone have the best coverage in Northern Ireland.

There are only 4 network providers in the UK, many other companies offer data packages but they all piggyback onto one of the 4 networks.
sofarsogood is offline  
May 15th, 2016, 08:20 PM
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A word of warning: some providers have patchy coverage in rural areas, where only 2G is available. For instance, where I live I can get only 2G from Vodafone and EE, and no signal at all from O2 or Three. Coverage maps aren't always detailed enough to be accurate for a specific area.
Heimdall is online now  
May 16th, 2016, 01:58 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
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Thanks to all who have responded.

The coverage map provided by Sofarsogood seems to be very detailed, and it looks to me as though Vodafone has better coverage where I'll be.
bvlenci is offline  

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