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Virgin Mobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

4th April 2022

Virgin Mobile Network Coverage

Virgin Mobile isn’t just any mobile network. It aims to stand out with low prices along with data allowances that roll over each month - so if you don't use all your data, you get the remaining amount added on to your next month's allowance.

Plus, all customers can use WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter without eating into their data allowances, you can get unlimited data, 5G is available, and you get access to Virgin Mobile's network of over 3.5 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK.

So there’s a lot to like about Virgin Mobile, but it won’t be the best fit for everyone.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Data rollover

No Pay As You Go plans

Free WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger use

 

Unlimited data plans

 

Our Verdict 

Table of Contents

Coverage

Which network does Virgin Mobile use?

Virgin Mobile uses Vodafone’s infrastructure and spectrum, so the two networks have the same coverage, meaning 5G is available in a large number of locations on Virgin Mobile.

It’s worth noting that the network used to be partnered with EE, and some existing 4G plans may still be receiving an EE signal, but if so they’ll be switched to Vodafone soon, with all new plans using Vodafone’s infrastructure.

Virgin Mobile Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

5G

Now available in 127 locations

4G 

99%

3G

99%

2G

99%

5G coverage

Virgin Mobile offers 5G in all the same places as Vodafone. That means that at the time of writing you can get it in parts of at least 127 UK towns and cities, including (but not limited to) the following:

Aberdeen, Alexandria, Ambleside, Aughton (Sth Yorks), Basingstoke, Bebington, Belfast, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bishopbriggs, Blaydon, Bolton, Bootle, Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Bristol Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gatley, Cheltenham, Chesterfield, Clydebank, Crawley (West Sussex), Crosby, Dewsbury, Dinas Powys, Droylsden, Dudley (West Midlands), Dundee, Eccles, Edinburgh, Eston and South Bank, Felling, Gateshead, Glasgow, Gloucester, Gosforth (Tyne & Wear), Guildford, Hebburn, Helensburgh, Horwich, Huddersfield, Huyton-with-Roby, Inner London, Isles of Scilly, Jarrow, Kingston upon Hull, Kingswood (Bristol), Lancaster, Leeds, Lisburn, Liverpool, Llandudno, Long Benton/Killingworth, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Middlesbrough, Morley, Mosborough/Highlane, Newbury, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Oldbury/Smethwick, Outer London, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prescot, Prestwich, Pudsey, Rawmarsh, Reading, Rochdale, Rotherham, Salford, Sheffield, Shipley, Solihull, South Shields, Southampton, Stockport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stranraer, Stretford, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Swansea, Swinton and Pendlebury, Tynemouth, Urmston, Wallasey, Wallsend, Warrington, Washington, Whitley Bay, and Wolverhampton.

To get 5G speeds you’ll need a 5G phone, but Virgin Mobile sells a number of these, including the Samsung Galaxy S22 and the iPhone 13.

4G coverage

Through its use of Vodafone’s infrastructure, Virgin Mobile has 99% 4G coverage.

As a result, 4G from Virgin Mobile is now available in thousands of towns, cities, and villages. Locations with 4G coverage include but are not limited to the following towns and cities:

Basingstoke, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Coventry, Dudley, Edinburgh, Epsom, Ewell, Folkestone, Gateshead, Glasgow, Hatfield , Hove and Hastings, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Jarrow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Maidstone, Newbury, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oldham, Pontefract, Portsmouth, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Stockport, Sunderland, Sutton Coldfield, Staines, Stourbridge, Swinton, Southampton, Tunbridge, Wakefield, Walsall, Watford, Wells and West Bromwich.

3G coverage

Virgin Mobile also has 99% 3G coverage and 99% 2G coverage. In other words then you’ll be able to get a connection – and usually a fast 4G one or better – almost anywhere in the UK.

Use Virgin Mobile’s coverage checker above to find out more about Virgin Mobile 4G coverage in your area, including signal strengths and details on both indoor and outdoor coverage.

Plans

Virgin Mobile offers a range of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans with 5G offered as standard, along with other perks, discussed below.

Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Data Only

Plans Available

x

Max Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

N/A

Contract lengths

24 or 36 months

12 or 24 months

N/A

 

View deals

View deals

 

SIM Only Deals
Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

5 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£6.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

10 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£7.00 a month

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Virgin Mobile

24 Month Contract

12 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£7.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

10 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£7.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

2 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

View All Virgin Mobile Sim Only Deals

Virgin Mobile has a number of Pay Monthly plans with different allowances. They top out at unlimited data and can last 24 months, however interestingly you can also opt for a 36-month plan, which isn't something many networks offer. You can also change your plan up or down every month, making it quite flexible.

Virgin Mobile also has a number of SIM Only plans, each of which lasts for 12 or 24 months, so they’re optionally shorter term. They’re also cheaper than its Pay Monthly plans as there’s no phone included, and they also top out at unlimited data.

Virgin Mobile’s SIM Only plans come with 5G as standard, and you’ll also get 5G if you opt for a 5G phone.

The upshot of all this is that Virgin Mobile’s plans are good if you want lots of data or lots of flexibility in terms of plan length.

Virgin Mobile Perks and Policies

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

5G

Roaming

Tethering

Wi-Fi Calling

VoLTE

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

Unlimited Data

Family Plans

Credit Check

As you can see in the table above, there are a number of perks available on Virgin Mobile – along with a few other details you should be aware of. We’ve explained these more fully below.

5G

Virgin Mobile offers 5G as standard, so you won’t have to pay extra for it, and you can get it whether you choose a SIM Only plan or a contract with a handset – just make sure you’re also getting or have a 5G phone, or you won’t be able to take advantage of it.

Roaming Destinations

Virgin Mobile lets you use your minutes, texts, and data at no extra cost across the EU, but not beyond. Having said that, there is a fair usage limit for data when roaming which varies depending on your plan. You can use Virgin Mobile's Data Calculator to find your fair usage limit.

Tethering

Although Virgin Mobile didn’t used to allow tethering it now does, however, the network doesn’t appear to have published whether there’s any cap to how much data you can use while tethering – presumably, that means there are no restrictions other than your data allowance.

Wi-Fi Calling

Wi-Fi Calling lets you make and receive calls and get SMS messages over a Wi-Fi network. You still use your normal phone number, it just means you can essentially get a signal in places where there’s no 2G, 3G or 4G coverage. This comes as standard on Virgin Mobile, but is only supported by select handsets, including many recent Samsung and Apple phones. Head here for full, up to date details.

VoLTE

VoLTE stands for Voice over LTE and is sometimes called 4G Calling. It refers to making and receiving calls over 4G and is notable as typically a 2G or 3G signal is required. The main benefit to VoLTE is that it lets you call in places where you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, as they only have a 4G signal. VoLTE is supported on Virgin Mobile on a range of devices, primarily Samsung and Apple ones. You can find a full list of supported devices here.

Data rollover

Virgin Mobile offers data rollover of one month on every plan (aside from unlimited data ones). That means if you don’t use all of your data in a month then you’ll get a second month to use the rest of it, so it helps make sure you’re not wasting it or paying for more data than you need.

It’s a handy perk which some other networks offer too, but which the majority don’t, so this is one advantage of choosing Virgin Mobile.

Spending caps

Virgin Mobile lets you set a spending cap of between £0 and £100 – meaning that you won’t be able to spend more than you set on things outside your plan, such as on premium numbers.

It’s a handy way to take control of your mobile spend, and avoid unexpected charges, though you don’t have to have a spending cap if you don’t want one.

Unlimited data

Virgin Mobile has unlimited data options whether you choose to get a new smartphone on Pay Monthly, or just go SIM Only.

Unlike some networks, this data is truly unlimited too – at least in the UK. When roaming there’s a variable fair usage cap, linked in the roaming section above.

Family plans

Virgin Mobile offers family plans, but you have to be a Virgin TV or broadband customer to access them.

If you are, then you can save £2 per month on each additional SIM on your account, up to five SIMs total, which would save you £96 per year. So that can make for a fairly hefty saving if you add a number of people to your account.

Credit checks

Like most networks, Virgin Mobile will credit check you, and as it doesn’t offer 30-day or Pay As You Go options, there aren’t any plans that don’t include a credit check, so this network likely isn’t suitable for those with bad credit.

Unique perks

Virgin Mobile offers a couple of perks that you won’t get on other networks. One of these is data-free messaging on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook, so you can use them for messaging without it coming out of your data allowance.

Virgin Mobile also gives you access to free Wi-Fi at over 3.5 million hotspots, so you can stay connected even when there’s no signal.

Awards

Virgin Mobile hasn’t won any major awards in recent years, but we’ll update this section as soon as it does. This isn’t necessarily a mark against it though, as most networks don’t win many awards.

Network

Network Speeds

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, September 2021, and April 2020

Network

Download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

44/9.7Mbps

36.0ms

Three

25.2/6.3Mbps

48.3ms

Virgin Mobile (Vodafone)

21.6/7.4Mbps

39.0ms

O2

17.1/5.4Mbps

38.1ms

As noted above, Virgin Mobile uses EE’s coverage for 4G customers and Vodafone’s for 5G ones. You can see speeds for both of those networks above, but we’re focusing on Vodafone’s, as all customers will eventually be moved to Vodafone’s infrastructure.

So then, according to a September 2021 report from Opensignal, Vodafone has an average download speed of 21.6Mbps and an average upload speed of 7.4Mbps.

Those are the third and second highest averages in the report respectively, as you can see above. Those speeds are for a combination of 5G, 4G, and 3G, so Virgin Mobile customers with access to its 5G service can probably expect similar speeds.

As for latency, that wasn’t included in the September 2021 report, but an April 2020 Opensignal report found that Vodafone’s averages 39ms. Lower is better here, so only Three’s is worse.

For 5G, Vodafone’s average download speed is 143.6Mbps according to Point Topic results from September 2020, while Ookla data from the first half of 2021 found that its median 5G download speed was 159Mbps, so Virgin Mobile’s speeds are likely to be similar.

Traffic management

Virgin Mobile states that 4G plans are not subjected to any traffic management policies, meaning your upload and download speeds won’t be limited other than by the overall speed caps of the network, which stand at 85Mbps for downloads and 35Mbps for upload – of course, your actual speeds may vary, but that will be due to things like your distance from the nearest mast, rather than any policy in place.

Virgin Mobile doesn’t appear to have published a traffic management policy for 5G plans at the time of writing, but we’ll update this section if that changes.

Frequencies

Virgin Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20 4G

900MHz

Band 8 2G & 3G

1400MHz SDL

Band 32 4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2600MHz

Band 7

4G

3400MHz

n78 5G

3600MHz

n77 5G

As Virgin Mobile is a Vodafone MVNO it presumably uses all the same 4G spectrum bands as Vodafone. That means it should have access to all the bands in the chart above. Between them, Virgin Mobile is equipped to deliver reliable 4G signals both in urban and rural locations, over long distances and through walls, while still being able to deliver the capacity needed in busy areas.

It's also equipped to deliver 5G signals via the 3400MHz and 3600MHz frequencies. As with other aspects of Virgin Mobile’s network though, the available bands differ if you’re on a 4G plan, as for those it uses EE. That network uses all the same bands except the 900MHz and 1400MHz ones.

Find out more in our 4G and 5G frequencies guide.

Customer service

While customer service can be hard to judge, based on the available evidence Virgin Mobile’s doesn’t look all that strong.

In an Ofcom report from 2021 the network was found to have received 25 Ofcom complaints for every 100,000 customers. This might not sound like much, but Virgin Mobile's is the highest and therefore worst of those networks reported on.

The report also found that 56% of customers were satisfied with the way complaints were handled – that’s middling compared to other tested networks. On top of which 13% of customers had a reason to complain (which is more than most but not all tested networks), and 88% of customers were satisfied with the service overall.

Conclusion

Virgin Mobile has strong 4G coverage and some near-unique extras, like data rollover and free WhatsApp, Twitter, and Facebook Messenger messaging. Its prices aren’t too high either, making it a strong overall choice of mobile network. With 5G too, plus unlimited data plans and Wi-Fi Calling, there’s a lot to like.

However, the network no longer offers Pay As You Go, so if that’s what you're looking for you need to look elsewhere, and customer service looks like it might also be a weak link.

Alternatives

One obvious alternative to Virgin Mobile is Vodafone since they have the same coverage. Choose Vodafone and you’ll also have access to a wider range of plans, including Pay As You Go, plus different perks, such as Vodafone’s VeryMe Rewards service and bundled entertainment subscriptions.

LebaraAsda Mobile, and Talkmobile, are all alternatives too, since they also have the same coverage.

However, if Vodafone’s coverage isn’t a factor for you then there’s no end of choice – check out our network reviews for full details on all of your main options.

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