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Virgin Mobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

16th November 2018

Virgin Mobile Network Coverage

As an EE MVNO, Virgin Mobile is in the enviable position of being able to take advantage of EE’s extensive 4G network, which currently covers over 99% of the UK population and around 91% of the UK's geography.

The company also 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, Virgin Media customers can get unlimited data, 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. Read on below for a full overview and review of the network.

Summary

Pros

Cons

Data rollover

No WiFi Calling or VoLTE

Free WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger use

Only 3G on Pay As You Go

Unlimited data for Virgin Media customers

Only offers standard 4G speeds

Our Verdict 

Coverage

Virgin Mobile has 99% 2G coverage, 98% 3G coverage and over 99% 4G coverage. In other words then you’ll be able to get a connection – and usually a fast 4G one – almost anywhere in the UK.

Virgin Mobile Coverage

Network Type

Coverage by population

4G 

> 99%

3G

98%

2G

99%

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.

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 cities:

Aberdeen, Armagh, Bangor, Bath, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Canterbury, Cardiff, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Chester, Chichester, Coventry, Derby, Derry, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Ely, Exeter,  Glasgow, Gloucester, Hereford, Inverness, Kingston upon Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Lichfield, Lincoln, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Newport, Newry, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Peterlee, Perth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Preston, Ripon, Sheffield, Southampton, St Albans, St Asaph, St David’s, Salford, Salisbury, Stirling, Stoke, Sunderland, Swansea, Truro, Wakefield, Wells, City of Westminster, Winchester, Wolverhampton Worcester and York.

Recent locations to benefit from EE (and by extension Virgin Mobile) 4G include Astley Bridge and parts of Scotland, Northumberland and North Yorkshire.

Network Speeds

With 4G, Virgin Mobile customers can get speeds which are roughly five times faster than a standard 3G connection.

OpenSignal – Mobile Networks Update, October 2018

Network

4G download speeds

4G latency (ms)

Virgin Mobile (EE)

28.9Mbps

39.77ms

Three

18.78Mbps

48.15ms

Vodafone

21.92Mbps

40.78ms

O2

14.61Mbps

42.38ms

An OpenSignal report from October 2018 found EE to be faster than any of its rivals, with average 4G download speeds of 28.9Mbps and an average latency (the time the network takes to respond to a request) of 39.77ms.

That’s EE, not Virgin Mobile, but as the latter uses the former’s infrastructure, Virgin’s results may well be similar. That said, they probably won’t quite be a match for EE’s, since EE users can also tap into 4G+ and Double Speed services, while Virgin Mobile is limited to standard 4G speeds.

Speedtest – Mobile Speedtest Data, Q3-Q4 2017

Network

Download/upload speeds

Virgin Mobile (EE)

28.80/9.29Mbps

Vodafone

17.26/8.16Mbps

Three

14.58/7.35Mbps

O2

14.11/7.13Mbps

The results are similar in a Speedtest report from late 2017, in which EE was found to have average download speeds of 28.80Mbps and average upload speeds of 9.29Mbps. Both of these figures again were higher than rivals, and are likely to be similarly high for Virgin Mobile.

Frequencies

Virgin Network Frequencies

Frequency

Frequency Band

Network

800MHz

Band 20

4G

1800MHz

Band 3

2G & 4G

2100MHz

Band 1

3G & 4G

2600MHz

Band 7

4G

As Virgin Mobile is an EE MVNO it uses the same 4G spectrum bands as EE. That means it has access to the 800MHz band, the 1800MHz band, the 2100MHz band and the 2600MHz band. Between the four of 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.

Find out more in our 4G frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

EE (and by extension Virgin Mobile) is seeing a lot of improvements in rural areas. For example, EE is planning to update more than 500 3G towers so they can transmit a 4G signal.

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 70Mbps 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.

Plans

Virgin Mobile offers a range of Pay Monthly and SIM Only plans with 4G offered as standard on all of them. Its plans also include Data Rollover, so you can keep your unused data, and free messaging on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twitter, so you can keep communicating even if you’ve used up your data for the month.

Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Plans Available

Max Data

60GB

* Unlimited if Virgin Media customer

45GB

* Unlimited if Virgin Media customer

Contract lengths

24 or 36 months

12 months

Tethering

VoLTE

WiFi Calling

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

EU Roaming

 

View deals

View deals

Virgin Mobile has a number of Pay Monthly plans with different allowances. They top out at 60GB of data and most 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 4G 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 months, so they’re a bit more flexible. They’re also cheaper than its Pay Monthly plans as there’s no phone included, but they top out at 45GB of data.

And those data limits only apply if you’re not a Virgin TV and Broadband customer, if you are then you can access a special plan that offers unlimited data, whether you’re on Pay Monthly or SIM Only.

Virgin Mobile doesn’t offer Data Only SIM plans, but you can get a Data SIM with a mobile broadband device, on plans lasting 30 days or 12 months and with up to 10GB of monthly data.

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

Pay As You Go

When you top up £10, £15 or £20 you’ll get one of the bundles below, each of which lasts one month.

Pay As You Go Bundles

Bundle

Plan Details

Price

JAM Pack £10

500 minutes

500 texts 

2GB data

£10

JAM Pack £15

1000 minutes

1000 texts

6GB data

£15

JAM Pack £20

2000 minutes

2000 texts

10GB data

£20

 

Order JAM Pack

Note that Virgin Mobile Pay As You Go only offers 3G data and you can’t roll over your JAM Pack allowances to the next month. If you use up your JAM Pack before the following month then you’ll be charged Virgin Mobile’s standard rates (below). You can’t activate a second JAM Pack in the same month.

Pay As You Go Plans

Plans Available

Add-ons available

Max Data Allowance

10GB

Add-on expiry 

30 days

Top Up Expiry

180 days inactivity

Tethering

EU Roaming

Outside of your bundle you’ll pay 40p per minute, 15p per text and £2 per 200MB per day for 3G data. Any use above 200MB will be charged at an additional £2 per 200MB.

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.

WiFi 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. However, Virgin Mobile doesn’t currently offer Wi-Fi Calling.

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. At the moment VoLTE isn’t supported by Virgin Mobile.

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. At the time of writing it's set at 7.91GB if you have unlimited data. You can use Virgin Mobile's Data Calculator to find your fair usage limit.

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 complaints report from Q3 2017, the network was found to have received 8 complaints for every 100,000 customers. This might not sound like much, but the industry average is apparently 5 and the highest is only 10, making Virgin Mobile well below average here.

Things don’t look any better for the network when looking at the Which? H1 2017 UK Mobile Network Survey, which surveyed 4,026 members of the public and put Virgin Mobile in joint 10th place.

Its overall customer score was 62%, and it received three stars (out of five) for customer service, ease/speed of contacting and value for money, and just one star for incentives.

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. It’s even better if you’re already a Virgin Media customer, as this gives you access to plans with unlimited data, which is something few networks offer.

It’s not as good for Pay As You Go users though, as they’re limited to 3G data. But as long as you’re happy to be on a contract, Virgin Mobile could be a good fit.

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