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Virgin Mobile - The First Virtual Mobile Provider

Virgin Mobile is owned by Virgin Group, which also run several famous companies like Virgin Trains, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Radio, and Virgin Galactic. Virgin Mobile was launched in 1999 as the very first virtual mobile provider in the UK.

Virgin Mobile offers a wide range of monthly contracts and Pay As You Go deals. You have the option to choose a Mobile SIM package, Starter SIM, Essential SIM, also VIP SIM and VIP Plus SIM. Each package offers a different amount of minutes, texts, and data. The mobile SIM package is priced at £7/30 days, which will get you 150 minutes, unlimited texts, and 500 MB of data. The Starter package at £10 per 30 days will get you 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 1 GB of data. The Essential package at £12 every 30 days will get you 1200 minutes, unlimited texts, and 1 GB of data. The VIP package at £15 for 30 days will get you unlimited minutes, texts, and 2 GB of data. Finally, the top end package is known as the VIP Plus. It costs £18 a month and for those 30 days you will get unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and unlimited data. However, the VIP Plus package is only available to Virgin Media broadband and TV customers so if you want it you should probably think about ditching SKY TV and going with Virgin Media cable. To be fair, their broadband is probably the best in the country. You can get something like 50mb for less than £30 a month which is well worth it in our opinion.

Virgin Mobile are piggybacking off the EE (Everything Everywhere) network to provide their services so you can be sure that you're going to get a really good signal at most points in the UK. EE has the widest coverage in the UK and the best 4G data availability of all the UK networks. Since EE is a merger between T-Mobile and Orange, your phone will automatically search for the strongest signal, so if the EE signal is weak in the area where you are in, you may see the operator logo on your mobile phone change from EE to Orange or T-Mobile.

Virgin Mobile offers many interesting features and bonuses including Wi-Fi hotspots at Underground stations in London. You will also get unlimited calls and texts to other Virgin Mobile users. Another thing you will get for free is phone insurance and you'll get a handset replacement in case it's lost or stolen. The insurance cover doesn't include accidents like putting it in the washing machine or flushing it down the loo, but it's still a great benefit. Let's be honest for a minute, if you are capable of accidently dropping your phone into a toilet and then flushing it, you probably should even be allowed to own a phone, let alone any financial products like insurance.

A number of networks will send you an SMS (a text message) if you are approaching your monthly data allowance but this doesn't seem to be the case with Virgin Mobile. We would therefor recommend that you keep an eye on your data usage if you're not on an unlimited data tariff because you could quite easily use more than your allowance and get a nasty shock (in the form of a pretty extortionate bill) at the end of the month. If you have a smartphone like the Apple iPhone, you can actually get a free App from the App store that measures the data send and received from the phone and will alert you when you reach a certain level. For example, if you're on a tariff that includes 1GB of data per month, you could tell the app to alert you when you reach 950MB so that you know that you'll have to be careful not to use your remaining 50MB before your next billing date.

One last thing you might want to look into before signing up with Virgin Mobile is their customer service. Ofcom rated Virgin Mobile at 72% for customer satisfaction, which is lower than the industry average at 76%. They also have a high rating of customer dissatisfaction during the first three months at 13%, that's almost twice as much as the industry average which is 7%. I've only had to call Virgin Mobile customer services a couple of times (when I was moving from Vodafone and needed to provide Virgin with my PAC code so that they could port my mobile number across) and was slightly disappointed to be promptly transferred to what I suspect was downtown Bombay. I was hoping for a nice Northern England accent or maybe even a softly spoken Scot but you get what you pay for I guess.

London, WC1N 4MF