Virgin Mobile is a virtual mobile network that is run by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. It was launched in 1999 making it the UK’s first virtual mobile provider and it uses the Everything Everywhere (formerly Orange and T-Mobile) network.
Virgin originally only offered PAYG services and, with the combination of a no-frills approach and competitive marketing, it carved out a significant market share. It reported its first annual profit by 2003 and 37% of the company was made available when shares were publicly marketed for the first time on 21 July 2004. It now employs 1,700 people in the UK and had a net revenue of £563 million in 2006.
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Virgin Mobile review
Virgin Mobile is the UK’s leading virtual network. This means it’s usually much cheaper than the main networks such as Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2 and 3. However, many of the other virtual networks may offer better value as Virgin Mobile’s tariff is relatively pricey. The newly introduced Simply 8p tariff brings Virgin’s prices back into line with other virtual networks and makes it a reasonable offer but you have to be a current Virgin Media customer to take advantage. Even so, there are better offers to be had elsewhere.
There have been problems reported with their coverage and the customer service is said to be only mediocre. They have call centres in India and South Africa but their online support is amongst the best in the business. Although, it has got worse in recent years and Virgin as a whole is less competitively priced than in the past.
In summary, they are an okay choice for a PAYG user but the other virtual networks might provide significant savings.
At a glance
Simply 8p Tariff
On the Addict tariff, Virgin’s standard flat rate cost for calls is 26p per minute and texts are a whopping 12p which makes it very expensive for a virtual network. The costs for MMS and 0870 or 0800 numbers are probably the highest around too.
However, one of the tariff’s big plus points is the 1GB of data usage you get (along with 3000 texts) for a £15 top-up. So if you’re willing to pay at least £15 per month, use a lot of internet on your phone then you’ll probably be happy. But if you are a heavy mobile internet user spending less than £15/month, then you’ll probably want to look into unlimited data offers. If you need lots of voice minutes, it will be very expensive and you should probably look into getting unlimited calls on PAYG.
In contrast, the Simply 8p tariff is much better value. Calls are only 8p per minute while texts are also just 8p each. This is a huge price cut compared to the regular tariff and makes Virgin Mobile much more competitive. It can even compete with budget networks such as Giffgaff and ASDA Mobile. The costs for 0800 numbers and 0870 numbers are also slightly less extortionate although internet use is still incredibly expensive after the initial 25MB per day at £2 per MB. Also bear in mind that you must already be signed up to one of Virgin Media‘s expensive packages to qualify for this tariff and that you can’t get the free texts when you top-up £15.
On the Addict tariff, £10 top up gives you 300 free texts a month and 25MB of web per day. Topping up £15 gives you 3000 texts instead and a 1GB data allowance.
Virgin Mobile uses the Everything Everywhere network (formerly Orange and T-Mobile). Please see the our Virgin Mobile coverage page to learn about Virgin Mobile’s network coverage in your area. For more information, compare it with other mobile phone networks’ coverage.
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