Lycamobile has switched customers from the O2 network to EE's – here's what you need to know
No-frills mobile operator Lycamobile has surprisingly switched all of its customers from O2's network – which it piggybacked on – to EE's, seemingly without telling them ahead of time. It comes after the company quietly signed a deal with BT Wholesale last week, meaning it will now piggyback off EE's mobile network.
On the face of it, nothing will change if you're a Lycamobile customer, it just means your mobile will now connect to EE's signal rather than O2's, and new customers will automatically be connected to the EE network (see our Piggybacking guide for more on how this works).
Lycamobile says prices will be frozen until the end of 2023 and free EU roaming will continue across all its plans (though Lycamobile has a strict 'fair use' policy).
However, many customers have said they had no warning that Lycamobile was changing from using O2's network to EE's, and some have reported that they've been struggling to use their phones at all since the switch started early last week.
'A change from O2 to EE could be massively disruptive depending on where you live'
Around 21 June, Lycamobile started sending out a service update email and text, explaining that it will be upgrading its network, but there was seemingly no mention of the switch to EE's network, and its website still said it used the O2 network for some time after customers were switched – leaving many confused.
While for many the change might not have a huge impact, some may have chosen Lycamobile specifically because it uses O2's signal, as they may struggle to get a decent signal with EE and other providers.
We asked Ofcom whether the lack of notice constitutes a breach of contract, and if so, what that means for customers. A spokesperson for Ofcom told us: “Customers must be given clear information in contracts and on websites when they sign up to a new deal. If a change is made to the contract once signed that isn’t to the customers' benefit, the provider needs to notify the customer, who can then leave penalty-free.”
"These rules apply to all mobile contracts, including 30 day rolling deals. Under the rules, the customer can terminate within one month of the notification, but those on 30 day contracts can already cancel/choose not to re-purchase every month. So if customers can no longer get a signal where they need it, they should be able to change provider easily."
We've seen numerous complaints from Lycamobile customers about the change in the MSE Forum and across social media:
They sent me one text which my phone marked as spam so I missed it. I guess their customer base is pretty agile, so they didn't want to spook anyone into leaving. A bit underhand though given that a change from O2 to EE could be massively disruptive depending on where you live, so customers should have been given clear advance notice so they could switch to a different provider if need be in a timely manner.
- Forumite simon_or
Many have experienced a loss of service
Following Lycamobile's warning to customers about the service upgrade, many customers have also reported issues with their signal, with some saying they've completely lost service for hours and even days.
Lycamobile did warn customers that they "may experience occasional disruptions during this time". The provider has suggested you restart your mobile device if you experience network issues.
Under rules from regulator Ofcom, customers may be entitled to a refund or account credit if they suffer long periods without service. If you're unhappy with how long it's taking to fix the problem, you'll need to complain to Lycamobile directly. If your problem is still unresolved after eight weeks, you can complain to the Communications Ombudsman.
If you're unhappy about the network change, most can switch penalty-free
Lycamobile offers pay-as-you-go deals and 30-day rolling contracts, as well as some Sim-only three-month, six-month and 12-month contracts.
- On pay-as-you-go or a 30-day rolling contract? You're free to switch to a new provider penalty-free at any point if you're unhappy about the move to EE's network.
If you're on a rolling contract, you'll need to cancel auto-renewal. You can do this online in your 'My Lycamobile' account, or by dialling *190# and entering 1 to confirm the cancellation. With pay-as-you-go, simply run down the credit, turn off 'auto top up' if you use it, and stop using the Sim or port it to a new firm.
However, if you switch partway through a 30-day contract or pay-as-you-go bundle, you'll lose any unused days and won't get a refund.
- On a three-, six-, or 12-month plan? Lycamobile also lets you pay in advance for three, six or 12 months of usage. If you switch before your prepaid period is up, it's unlikely you'll get a refund, so you may be better off sticking with it until it runs out.
If you're thinking of leaving Lycamobile, you can use our Cheap Mobile Finder tool to find the best deal for you.
What does Lycamobile and BT Wholesale say?
Lycamobile has told us: "There have been a small number of customers who have reported network issues following our migration, with these having been easily resolved. We are confident that the vast majority of our customers are now receiving improved services."
Alex Tempest, managing director of BT Wholesale, added: "Thanks to this partnership, Lycamobile customers will receive access to EE's 4G and 5G network, which currently supports data speeds that are around four times as fast as what they received previously."