flame Compare Deals and save hundreds of pounds Sim Only Deals Phone Deals

Virgin Mobile 4G Coverage and Network Review

3rd August 2021

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 

Coverage

Virgin Mobile is in the unusual position of having two network partners at the time of writing. Customers on 5G plans will be using Vodafone’s coverage and infrastructure, while those on 4G plans use EE’s.

However, Virgin Mobile will start switching 4G plans over to Vodafone from late 2021, with all customers expected to be moved by early 2022. So with that in mind we’ll be focusing on Vodafone here, though note that both Vodafone and EE have at least 99% UK population coverage with 4G anyway.

Through its use of Vodafone’s infrastructure, Virgin Mobile has 99% 2G coverage, 99% 3G coverage, and 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

99%

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 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.

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 100 UK towns and cities. The full list is as follows:

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 S21 and the iPhone 12.

Network Speeds

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

Opensignal – Mobile Network Experience, October 2020, and April 2020

Network

4G download/upload speeds

4G latency (ms)

EE

36.4/9.1Mbps

36.0ms

Three

22.2/8.0Mbps

48.3ms

Virgin Mobile (Vodafone)

22.4/8.5Mbps

39.0ms

O2

18.2/6.2Mbps

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 an October 2020 reported from Opensignal, Vodafone has an average 4G download speed of 22.4Mbps and an average 4G upload speed of 8.5Mbps. Those are both the second highest averages in the report (behind EE). As Virgin Mobile uses Vodafone’s infrastructure (at least for some customers) its 4G speeds are likely to be similar.

As for latency, that wasn’t included in the October 2020 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, so Virgin Mobile’s speeds are likely to be similar.

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 frequencies guide.

Planned improvements

Virgin Mobile is primarily reliant on Vodafone for improvements, and that network seems focused on continually improving its 5G coverage.

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.

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. Plus, you can make use of free Wi-Fi at over 3.5 million hotspots.

Pay Monthly Plans

 

Mobile Phones

SIM Only

Plans Available

Max Data

Unlimited

Unlimited

Contract lengths

24 or 36 months

12 or 24 months

Tethering

VoLTE

Wi-Fi Calling

Data Rollover

Spending Caps

EU Roaming

 

View deals

View deals

SIM Only Deals
Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

4 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£6.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

24 Month Contract

12 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

2 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

12 Month Contract

8 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£8.00 a month

View Deal

Virgin Mobile

24 Month Contract

15 GB data

Unlimited mins

Unlimited texts

£10.00 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.

Pay As You Go

As of August 2019 Virgin no longer offers Pay As You Go plans.

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.

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.

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.

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 is what you're looking for you need to look elsewhere, and customer service looks like it might also be a weak link.

Mobile Networks

Sim Deals

SIM Card Triple SIM
4 GB Data UNLIMITED Minutes UNLIMITED Texts £6.00 a month View Deal
SIM Card Triple SIM
4 GB Data Unlimited Minutes Unlimited Texts £6.00 a month View Deal
View More
Sign up for our newsletter.