Telecoms Guides | What is the difference between a business mobile contract and a consumer mobile contract?

What is the difference between a business mobile contract and a consumer mobile contract?

Thu, 12 November 2020

On this page, we walk through the differences between business mobile contracts and consumer contracts, and why it’s usually better to go for a business contract. Even if you are a tiny business with a handful of employees, a freelancer or a sole trader, it may be worth getting a business mobile plan rather than a personal mobile plan.
The major decision when choosing a mobile phone service for your business is whether to go direct to a network provider, or go through a “middle man” who bundles your SIMs, handsets and network tariffs into a single service with a single monthly invoice. This article looks at the questions to ask when making this choice.

Business women on phone

It’s worth taking the time to get your business mobile phone decisions right the first time around. Although lots of businesses switch mobile telephony providers each year, the reality is it’s a palaver and stressful. The fact that they do it is not proof it’s easy, but proof of what a nightmare it can be if you make the wrong choice for your business.

What is the difference between a business mobile plan and a consumer plan?

A lot of small businesses wonder if it is actually worth using a business mobile plan instead of a consumer or personal one. They tend to worry that it will cost more, and they are not clear on the extras and benefits you can get with a business mobile contract.

This is hardly surprising, because the providers tend to do a poor job of explaining the differences simply!

Man stressing about work

The characteristics of good business mobile phone plans

These are the main factors you should research and weigh up when picking your business mobile provider:

  1. The usage and billing is designed around having a group of users who can switch credit or usage between them, rather than treating each phone and its plan separately. This means a worthwhile business mobile contract ought to end up costing less than you would pay for several consumer contracts.
  2. You should get at least everything you would get from a consumer mobile plan, with a list of optional business add-ons to choose from. They should be as flexible as possible so you can opt in and out without making very long term commitments to pay for things you may not use.
  3. You can get optional extra small business services outside the usual telephony services, such as HR or legal support.

Getting business mobile through a telecoms reseller

Going through a telecoms reseller sounds as if it would cost more. Surely they need to take their cut, which bumps up your prices?

Actually, the opposite is often true. Telecoms resellers organise so many contracts and new customers for the big providers that they can negotiate for much lower prices than you could on your own. It’s in their interests to pass on savings to you, because otherwise they would have a very hard time getting new customers!

If you start rummaging about the various providers’ contracts – such as O2, EE or Vodafone – on their own websites, you usually enter a world of confusion. Resellers spend their lives studying the details between one tariff and another, so they can find the best option for you from whichever provider is the right choice. This can save you hours or weeks of lone research, and make sure you don’t accidentally overlook a gem of a deal.

You can take advantage of iCompario if you prefer. We can sort through the business mobile options and pick out some of the best available business mobile deals to save you time.

As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right business mobiles and SIM deals, internet phones, broadband and any other communications solution you need, for the right price.

What to look out for when choosing your business mobile reseller

You need to make sure your reseller is going to deliver on customer service. They nearly all tell you about the customer service awards they have won, but it’s more useful for you as a customer to probe them for statistics and details.

Ask to see the telecoms reseller’s service level agreement

If you go through a telecoms reseller, the main way they add value is through customer support. They should be able to make sure your problems get sorted rapidly after a quick phone call, rather than leaving you hanging on for ages to a massive call centre or waiting ours for someone to address your problem.

Woman in call centre

Service level agreements usually give the specifics of the maximum time you will have to wait for different types of service and the penalties they will pay if they fail to deliver – which may be refunds to you.

iCompario tip:

If you are not used to reading service level agreements, do some research on Google to find out the types of clauses they should contain and what to expect. They may cover any and every mobile phone problem from new connections, device management and tariff changes to operational queries and more.

Ask about the telecom reseller’s call centre

Do you want to use an overseas call centre? We didn’t think so. Do you want your problem fixed in days or hours or minutes? Ask your provider their average time to resolve problems.

Do they have a single call centre for all problems? Or will you have to go to different people to add new starters to your company onto the business mobile contract, or deal with accidental bill spikes, broken phones, trips abroad, security updates and so on?

As a free comparison site, iCompario can help you find the right business mobiles and SIM deals, internet phones, broadband and any other communications solution you need, for the right price.

These are some of the most useful services a telecoms reseller may offer you.

Voice and data plans

Resellers sometimes offer to build you a “bespoke” or “tailored” business mobile phone package by comparing networks, tariffs and handsets to find the best choices for your company. They do this by analysing your past data usage, roaming needs and whether you want SIM-only or phone handsets. They can also analyse your current contract tariffs.

The purpose of this analysis is to help you save money by only paying for what you need.

Mobile broadband

If your employees need to work on trains or in other people’s offices, you can use a reseller to bundle a mobile phone service with mobile broadband, which gives you the internet using a mobile phone network. It works through internet dongles for laptops, 4G data SIMs and 4G tablets.

This means your employees can keep the company data safe, and say goodbye to unreliable connections when trying to do their jobs away from the office. You can also have peace of mind for your business information and customers’ personal data protection, as your employees will never have to use unsafe wi-fi in public places.

business woman in airport

Business mobile resellers should be able to give you flexible contracts tailored to your requirements, with either monthly allowances or top ups as your business needs.

Some questions to ask a prospective telecoms reseller:

  • What help with installation do you offer? Do you give support with set up and training?
  • How fast and reliable is the 4G connectivity?
  • Which networks do you offer: Vodafone, O2 and EE or others?
  • How flexible are your mobile broadband data tariffs and what are the data amounts I can choose from? Do I have to stick to monthly data allowances, or can I top up as needed?

Pop up mobile hotspots

4G mobile hotspots for “internet on the go” mean your employees can basically take the office wi-fi to temporary locations like trade shows, exhibitions or field offices. They can even use it in moving vehicles.

A 4G mobile hotspot is also sometimes called a temporary event wi-fi hotspot or a portable wi-fi router. It connects to your chosen mobile network and broadcasts a wi-fi signal.

They can keep around 10 different devices online at a time, although some support fewer and some support more. You team can then connect their laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile hardware to the mobile hotspot’s signal, and use the internet wherever they need to work.

This is an option that can be shared by anyone in the company, making it more flexible than individual mobile broadband for specific devices.

Some questions to ask a prospective telecoms reseller:

  • What is the distance range of the device? How many devices can connect to the hotspot at a time?
  • What is involved in setting it up?
  • What info does the hotspot screen display? Most show battery, signal and data usage.

Which are the main providers of business mobile in the UK?

We take a look at the two leading providers of business mobile services in the UK: Vodafone and O2.

Vodafone business mobile plans: what are the benefits and features?


When choosing a Vodafone business plan, you’ll still get all of the regular benefits that are available on personal phone plans. This means 5G coverage, unlimited data, VeryMe Rewards and Entertainment add-ons.

On top of this, you can then choose the business-specific features you want. These include HR & legal support, device support and a virtual landline number – all of which can be extremely useful for small businesses.

With Vodafone, you can get a business mobile plan for the same cost as a standard personal mobile plan.

iCompario tip:

You may end up paying less than you would for a personal or consumer plan, as the VAT can be reclaimed if you’re a VAT-registered business. You may also be able to claim the costs of the plan against your business which could save you money on corporate taxes too.

Vodafone’s business mobile plans include the following features:

Clear VAT invoices with Vodafone business mobile

Consumer mobile phone invoices are usually lacking in any detail and you have to pay extra for call itemisation, or anything else that helps you analyse how to keep spending under control. Business mobile invoices split out the VAT for you and offer a variety of other data.

GigaCube 4G & 5G Broadband

A 4G or 5G-powered home office or small office broadband service allows you to access the internet without a phone line or cable connection. This is useful if you often work away from the office.

Pay monthly handsets

You can buy smartphones for your company on a business contract with Vodafone, from manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Google and Sony. The handsets cost the same on business price plans as on standard personal plans.

Pay monthly SIM cards

The Vodafone Red or Vodafone Unlimited SIM cards are available for business mobile phones.

Fibre Broadband

A ‘superfast’ fibre broadband service with speeds of either 35Mbit/s or 63Mbit/s can be included in business mobile plans.

O2 Business mobile plans: what are the added features?


O2 offer business mobile plans that are designed around making it easy for you to change the number of phones or other details as your business needs change.

Its website says ‘Our Business Essentials tariffs are designed for small businesses, and they offer simplicity and flexibility. You can upgrade and add apps or devices when you need.’

These are some of the characteristics O2 business mobile plans offer:

SIM only plans for businesses

You can pay for a business SIM from O2 while using your own personal mobile phone. You get unlimited minutes and unlimited texts, you choose how much data you want and you get business extras The O2 website says these include ‘flexing your data once a month, connecting for free at O2 wi-fi hotspots, and enjoying daily offers with Priority.’

Share data allowances between employees and use data rollover

Some of your employees will use more data than others. With O2 sharer tariffs, you can share a pot of data allowance between all of them. This can help you go for a cheaper data allowance option, since the spare data nor needed by one employee can go to another one automatically.

O2 will roll your data over if you haven’t used it, helping you iron out the peaks and troughs in your data demand.

Adding connections when your business grows

If you need more connections, you can add to an O2 business mobile contract or remove them whenever you need to.

iCompario tip:

If your business is seasonal and has real variations through the year in how much work comes in, flexible contracts can be a valuable way to keep costs down.

Business calls abroad

O2 business mobile contracts let you buy individual and or shared international minutes that you can swap between employees, for the countries and regions your employees call most often. You can also add roaming to your O2 business plan, only paying upfront for the countries or regions you or your employees travel to the most.

Clear VAT invoices with business mobile

O2 Business mobile invoices split out the VAT for you and offer a variety of other data. Having all your employees on the same bill makes it easier to manage your accounts every month.

iCompario can help you choose

We have data on all the main UK mobile service providers.

If you want to make your choice of business mobile provider easier, we can take a few details from you and obtain quotes and offers on your behalf from our selection of the best providers for your particular business.

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