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Virgin Media’s 5G Mobile Goes Live via Vodafone UK UPDATED

Monday, January 25th, 2021 (8:40 am) - Score 11,928
virgin_mobile_uk_5g

The mobile division of cable broadband, TV and phone provider Virgin MediaVirgin Mobile – appears to have started the live launch of their new ultrafast 5G based data services, albeit initially only using their new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) platform from Vodafone rather than O2.

Just to recap. At the end of 2019 Virgin Media signed a 5-year deal with Vodafone to run their MVNO platform, which effectively ended their long-running relationship with BT / EE (here). Under the plan Virgin Mobile’s services – covering c.3 million customers – would start to transition to Vodafone’s network from the end of 2021, although the operator revealed that they would launch 5G services via Vodafone ahead of that transition date.

NOTE: A pilot conducted by VM between October to December 2020 delivered average 5G speeds of 176.62Mbps.

Suffice to say that this plan was initially cast into a cloud of uncertainty after last year’s announcement of Virgin Media and O2’s (Telefonica UK) plan to merge, which came only a few months after the Vodafone deal and is currently expected to be signed off by mid-2021 (here). However, VM later confirmed that the agreement with Vodafone would continue, which could make for a longer future transition on to O2, but that’s another story.

Fast forward to today and VM has recently updated their 5G Mobile page to state that the new service is now live in parts of “100 towns and cities” (these are of course Vodafone’s network locations, rather than EE’s). By the looks of it the 5G SIM-Only plans are identical to their equivalent 4G options. We’ve pasted a few examples below (all include unlimited calls, texts and a 24-month contract term, but shorter terms and other plans do exist).

Example Virgin Mobile SIM Plans

Data 32GB
£12 per month

Data 100GB
£20 per month

Data Unlimited
£27 per month

Naturally, in order to benefit from faster 5G speeds you’ll also need a supporting Smartphone, although if you don’t already own one then Virgin Mobile do have a selection of those on offer as part of a bundle. For new customers this should all be easy enough as you’ll find yourself on the Vodafone powered MVNO platform for 4G and 5G.

However, in terms of existing customers, VM states: “If you’ve already got an eligible mobile plan with us, we’ll upgrade you to 5G at no extra cost, as soon as it’s available.” We suspect the “eligible” wording may also relate to VM’s EE based 4G customers that have yet to be transitioned to the new Vodafone platform.

We have asked VM to clarify a few details about how they’re handling the 5G launch, as well as the transition away from EE to Vodafone, and will report back once they respond. In the meantime, here’s a list of the 100+ 5G locations that have been named on their website (coverage in some of these areas is currently very limited).

Virgin Mobile’s 100+ 5G Launch Locations

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
Wolverhampton
York

UPDATE 9:26am

The official press release just dropped into our inbox and it clarifies that “those who have already got their hands on a 5G device and purchased one from Virgin Media from April 2020 onwards will automatically receive a boost to Virgin Media’s 5G services. Customers who take a 5G plan won’t need to lift a finger, their services will be upgraded with no need to swap their SIM or activate the service.”

Meanwhile new and existing mobile customers taking a 4G plan will remain on Virgin Media’s mobile service via EE’s network until VM’s agreement with BT Enterprise comes to an end in late 2021. Virgin Media anticipates that all of its mobile customers will have transitioned to the Vodafone network by early 2022.

Jeff Dodds, CEO at Virgin Media, said:

“The launch of 5G is a milestone moment for us. As the world’s first virtual mobile operator, our offering has long been about breaking boundaries and offering our customers a premium service without the price tag. That’s why we’re launching fast, reliable 5G connectivity at no extra cost while keeping the added extras of our existing mobile plans in place.

By offering 5G and gigabit broadband all under one roof, Virgin Media customers can experience next-generation connectivity both in and out of the home, putting them in a great place to take advantage of the latest technology.”

We’ve also been given a pricing summary.

12 months SIMO price and data
  £6 3GB
  £10 4GB
  £12 25GB
  £16 50GB
  £25 100GB
  £30 Unlimited (cable exclusive)
24 months SIMO price and data
  £8 3GB
  £10 5GB
  £12 32GB
  £20 100GB
  £27 Unlimited (cable exclusive)
36 months Freestyle handset / airtime plans
  Samsung Galaxy S21 5G 24GB for £38
  Samsung Galaxy S21 5G 50GB for £40
  Samsung Galaxy S21 5G Unlimited data for £42
  Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G 24GB for £44
  Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G 50GB for £46
  Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G Unlimited data for £48
  OPPO Reno4 Pro 24GB for £30
  OPPO Reno4 Pro 50GB for £32
  OPPO Reno4 Pro Unlimited data for £34
18 months Cable pricing (bundled with broadband etc.) Oomph pricing (includes SIM and Speeds Boost)
Solus £26.99 – M100 £34.99 – M200 + 5GB SIM
Dual £28 – M50 £36 – M100 + 5GB SIM
Big £29.99 – M100 £33.99 – M200 +5GB SIM
Bigger £45 – M100 £53 – M200 + 5GB SIM
Ultimate Oomph £79 – M500 + includes unlimited SIM

Leave a Comment
32 Responses
  1. Avatar James says:

    I have a fairly new sim card from Virgin Media and I thought it was still EE going by the poor coverage I am getting on it.

    Is there an easy way to check which network it is using ?

    1. Avatar AD says:

      It’ll most likely be using EE unless you have a 5G plan I guess. They’re still using EE for 4G, the transition I believe will take place at the end of the year or the next

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      _Usually_ if you select manual network selection, the missing network will be replaced with “Virgin”.

      If you are missing EE, that is what the SIM is likely using. If you are missing Vodafone, that.

    3. Avatar James says:

      Thanks for your reply, that is useful to know.

      Of our interest though, is there a way to check which MVNO a particular sim card is using in cases were companies are moving from one to another and you want to check which it is using ?

    4. Avatar glenn Cooper says:

      All these major towns and cities are listed and yet Vodafone/Virgin in Coventry is nowhere to be seen?

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    £27 per month for unlimited 5g is actually cheaper than what Virgin offers for similar speeds on their cable………… eh? the mind boggles. Guess its because only 20 people can in reality access the 5g and its nothing more than a marketing ploy at this point in time.

    1. Avatar Voxi/VM-Business user says:

      I’d argue mobile broadband and fixed line broadband are still different markets, but what’s more interesting to me is that VM’s pricing is better value than others on Vodafone’s 5G network:

      Vodafone’s Unlimited Max (no speed limits) is £30/mo for a 24 month contract, and VOXI’s Endless Data plan is £35 on a 1 month contract (but frequently down to £30).

      I wonder what the reason was behind Asda and VM’s switches from Vodafone from EE.

  3. Avatar James™ says:

    Wait aren’t they meant to be merging with O2?
    Did think the Vodafone deal was still going ahead

    1. Avatar Cmwp says:

      Mark stated in an earlier one based off the fact they were merging that an agreed Vodafone deal would fall through, it was mentioned but he asked for a source which was clearly on the VM site with a simple search.
      The merger means nothing since the Vodafone deal happened before the O2 one it would have been more issues to revert whatever than just continue; plus the money had most likely already been paid out and non refundable anyway.

  4. Avatar Anna says:

    Interesting. I now wonder if they just put themselves head to head with Voxi? They are £35 for unlimited and although they are 30 days people who use it no doubt carry on shelling out every month – and now there is a cheaper identical service (If you still use MMS Voxi is the better choice of course)

    1. Avatar Voxi user says:

      Just thought I’d let you know they’re having a sale at the moment and it’s £30 for a month-to-month Unlimited 5G sim from VOXI. This sale price lasts for 24 months after you sign up to it, so for anyone looking for it now, it looks like an attractive option.

    2. Avatar Voxi user says:

      Also, here’s my referral code, if you sign up using it, you can get a £20 Amazon voucher after first month with VOXI.

      https://referme.to/D8bRfY

      (I put this in a different comment just in case it breaks rules and needs to be taken down)

  5. Avatar Craig says:

    50GB for £16 a month on a 12 month contract seems competitive

    1. Avatar Anna says:

      1p mobile do 50GB for £15 30 days so yes it’s about right –

      3GB is £2 a month more on 24 rather than on 12 – odd.

  6. Avatar Jay powell says:

    Unlimited sim on three is 16 pound . Virgin mobile unlimited is £27 go figure .

    1. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

      Virgins is no doubt twice as fast and far less contended.

  7. Avatar Jay powell says:

    Trouble is with virgin mobiles unlimited sim £27 and the £30 quid you need to take out a broadband package thats anti consumer

    I rather save 12 or 13 pounds and going with threes unlimted sim threes the fastest 5g network .

    1. Avatar John says:

      Three is just a joke regarding speeds, twice slower or even more than Vodafone

  8. Avatar Jay powell says:

    I requested a pac code from virgin mobile to three and saving 15 pounds a month via three unlimited sim

    Infact threes homebroadband 5g is actually cheaper and faster than virgins gig1 service at £64 a month and three 5g broadband is £30 pounds a month go figure i know which i would choose for homebroadband 5g is the way to go virgin broadband is overpriced and greedy.

    1. Avatar AQX says:

      Upload a speedtest of your 5G, curious to see just how “good” it is considering how terribly inconsistent Three is..

  9. Avatar Jay powell says:

    I prefer three than virgin mobile tbh

  10. Avatar Craig says:

    I was with Three mobile a couple of years ago, has their signal in central London improved?

  11. Avatar Adam says:

    This is just crazy for the end consumer.

    Purchase a 4G handset – you’ll be on EE for the rest of the year at least.
    Purchase a 5G handset – you’ll be on Vodafone.

    People will be so confused.

    1. Avatar Aqx says:

      That’s only existing customers, new customers are automatically put on to Vodafone 4 & 5G. Existing customers most likely upgraded once the network recognises their phone as compatible.

    2. Avatar Adam says:

      Not true.

      Check out their coverage checker – https://www.virginmedia.com/mobile/coverage-checker
      If you select “New plan or SIM”, then “New Phone”, then 5G ready: “No” you get given the EE coverage map.

    3. Avatar Aqx says:

      Looking from the above statement from Mark, it claims new customers are on Vodafone for 4G & 5G. Unless this is for new customers taking a mobile contract as well but from the wording looks to be just new customers.

  12. Avatar Jake Sisko says:

    Can’t they simply add the other network as a roaming partner?

    3 did this back in the day so you had both O2 2G and Orange 2G coverage during their switchover over period. Coverage was excellent.

  13. Avatar S says:

    I’ve been on the Virgin 4g unlimited plan since last summer, yesterday my 4g router switched to saying its connected to Vodafone, now my speeds are much WORSE than before. This is in Peterborough.

  14. Avatar Jamie says:

    I tweeted some screenshots the other day, My mobile was connecting to the Vodafone 4G only network and showed the device roaming. However, this doesn’t appear to work anymore.

  15. Avatar David Hunter says:

    I have a dual sim phone and on Vodafone for my main number and Virgin on my other number, as the Vodafone reception in my area is great on 2g but non existent on 3G and above (Rural Aberdeenshire blackspot) but if I go 100 metres or so down the road I get 4G on EE/Virgin

    However, I’m going to getting of Vodafone as soon as my contract is up I had a dispute with them and don’t want to go to Vodfone with Virgin, so do I have a right to cancel my 12 month contract early?

    As far as I can see, they’ve changed the terms of the contract I agreed with them, so I should have a right to cancel?

  16. Avatar DAvid says:

    Im in contract with virgin and since its switched to Vodafone the speeds have fallen off massively.
    Previously using EE band 7, now stuck with Vodafone on band 20 with excellent signal.

  17. Avatar Max Owen says:

    Given the fact that Vodafone’s coverage ìs poor relative to EE, particularly regarding 4G and data capabilities, I do think that Virgin customers are going to loose out even with the promise of 5G at no extra cost.

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