Who are Virgin Media?
Virgin Media launched in Ireland in 2005. The telecommunications giant has since solidified its place in the market after launching tv, broadband and mobile services in Ireland. Owned by Liberty Global, Virgin Media offers Ireland's fastest broadband network. They have managed to take the largest share of Cable TV customers in Ireland and became an MVNO or Mobile Virtual Network Operator in 2015, following the terms and conditions set by the European Commission on Three's acquisition of O2 from Telefónica. Being Ireland's youngest network and after entering a cut-throat market, Virgin Media and other MVNO's alike have struggled to gain market share from the industry leaders such as Vodafone, Three and Meteor. They've had to introduce very competitive plans, offer incentives to new and existing customers and flaunt their advertising everywhere. But, are they worth your attention? The short answer is yes.
Coverage and Quality
Unfortunately, perhaps the biggest downfall of being a Virgin Mobile customer is coverage and quality. As Virgin Media is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), they do not own their own network. When Three bought O2 for €780 million from Telefónica in 2015, Three were forced to set spectrum aside for the use of two new MVNO's in Ireland. This spectrum was snapped up by Virgin Media and iD Mobile respectively. Luckily, Virgin Media was allowed to access Three's 4G network meaning all of Virgin's customers get 4G for free. This is rare for an MVNO as Tesco Mobile, 48 and LycaMobile customers still don't have access to Three's 4G network in 2017. If you've read my previous articles you'll know that I've slammed Three for operating a shockingly poor network. After facing serious network outages following the merger with O2, Three was faced with a daunting problem. Vodafone and Meteor were (and still are) winning the race to nationwide 4G. Realising this, Three launched "The Big Upgrade" program to integrate and improve their network. The €300 million project was due to be finished at the start of this year but delays have plagued the project and pushed it's completion all the way up to next Summer. Undoubtedly this has had a damaging impact on Virgin Media who has been forced to put up with Three's lacklustre network. Vodafone's 3G and 4G network is now almost twice as fast as that of Three's, and even more frighteningly, both Meteor and Vodafone have over 30% more 4G coverage. Virgin's customers will struggle to maintain a reliable connection in rural and even suburban areas, and will find themselves stuck on snail pace Edge or 2G in vast swathes of the Irish landscape. Ultimately, Virgin who uses Three's network can't hold a candle to the coast to coast omnipresence of Vodafone.
Plans and Devices
Virgin Mobile's customers can rest assured that they're accessing some, if not the best plans on the market right now. Contrary to what networks usually do, Virgin has made it's plans as simple as possible. With only to plans to choose from, when other networks bombard their customers with dozens of plans which are created to deceive, Virgin is betting big on attracting new customers. At the time of this article, Virgin Mobile only offers two sim only plans and various billpay plans, but no prepay plans. This is probably for the best as the prepay market is saturated with customers who are far less appealing because of their tenability to go for cheaper plans. The two plans which Virgin offers on Sim Only are simply excellent. I'm going to go as far as to say that Virgin's €25 plan is the best ever on the Irish market. Customers are not forced to wait 24,18 or even 12 months if they want to leave the network. Customers can simply leave after thirty days, but that's unlikely to happen considering you're getting unlimited data, calls and texts for €25. Yes, you read that right €25 for All you can Eat everything on a thirty day contract. This plan puts Vodafone to shame, who for €30 offers a ridiculous 5GB of data. And things get even better when you learn that if you're already a Virgin Media customer you get unlimited everything for €5 for the first five months. The plan even beats Three's famous All you can Eat plan which is €30 for All you can Eat everything. Virgin's other, less attractive Sim Only plan is for those who are less data hungry. €20 gets you 250 calls and texts and 1GB of data. That same plan is only €15 if you're already a Virgin Media customer. Those looking to take the billpay option will be pleased to see that the vast majority of popular smartphones are available including Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+, Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus and Sony's Xperia X and XA. However, phones from manufacturers such as HTC, LG and Huawei remain unavailable at the moment. Ultimately, Virgin Mobile offers the best Sim Only plan ever on the Irish Market with Unlimited everything for only €25.
Customer Care and Benefits
Look anywhere on the internet and you'll find people complaining about big companies. It's no different for Virgin Mobile, which has its fair share of disillusioned former customers with tales of bad experiences. This is true of every network, though, and I still back Virgin Media as having one of the best customer service teams in the business. Virgin Mobile offers all the modern ways of communicating with a company to get help: Twitter, Facebook, Email, Phone and Live Chat. Virgin Media has crafted a very lucrative business model. The Virgin ecosystem is very rich with TV, Phone, Broadband and Mobile all complementing each other and giving customers a seamless experience. As I mentioned earlier on, all Virgin Mobile customers get free access to 4G and reap the benefits from thirty day, flexible sim-only plans.
Should you switch to Virgin Media?
If you want to keep your current phone and sign up to one of Virgin Mobile's Sim Only plans there's no better network. Virgin Mobile has the best Sim Only plan in Ireland with Unlimited everything for €25 (€5 for the first five months if you're already on Virgin Media). You'll probably find all the devices you need on Virgin Mobile with the newest handsets from Samsung, Apple and Sony available. Virgin Mobile customers have access to one of the best customer care teams in telecommunications and all customers get free access to 4G. However, 4G is most likely out of reach for the majority of customers as Virgin Mobile uses Three's appalling network that remains years behind both Vodafone and Meteor. To conclude, Virgin Mobile has made significant progress and is an excellent mobile network worth giving your attention to.
Great choice of Popular Handsets
Great Customer Care
Great choice of Popular Handsets
Great Customer Care
Uses Three's terrible Network
Published by Luke Kehoe: 13/04/17