The United Kingdom entered the era of 4G mobile services late last year, although EE remains the only service provider actually selling 4G tariffs, and for many, the asking price of being an early adopter is simply too high. So it's perhaps no surprise that there remains fierce competition for customers interested in less expensive 3G tariffs, and Virgin Media is the latest to overhaul its price plans with a range of new unlimited offerings.
Unlimited texts are widely available on many networks, but T-Mobile has been the only UK network until now to offer unlimited texts, calls and data on a flat-rate price plan, while Three and Telefónica's giffgaff have also catered to those seeking plans with unlimited data on their handsets. Virgin Media has now announced its VIP plans, which not only offer unlimited texts, data and calls - including calls to 0800, 0808, 0845 and 0870 numbers, which attract steep charges on many other networks - but also a free handset, unless you opt for a SIM-only plan.
Customers who have other Virgin Media services will get £5 a month off a VIP handset tariff and free mobile insurance worth £7.99 per month, with guaranteed next-day replacement, while all customers will also get three months of free Spotify mobile usage.
The Nokia Lumia 620 is one of several phones available free with a VIP handset tariff
Prices for the VIP tariffs start from £15 per month for the SIM-only deal, which offers 30-day rolling contract terms, and unlimited everything, in what Virgin Media is calling "the best unlimited SIM-only deal on the market". New customers buying VIP with a free handset, such as the Nokia Lumia 620, will pay £31 a month, or £26 a month with other Virgin Media services.
Interestingly, while Virgin Media's press release claims that "unlimited means unlimited", a footnote clarifies that the data element of the tariff is subject to an "acceptable usage policy", which states that "excessive use over 3.5GB of data per calendar month will result in their maximum bandwidth being restricted to 384kbits/s downstream, 200kbits/s upstream on our network". For customers who have been with Virgin Media since before 25 June 2012, the threshold for excessive use is even lower at 2GB per month. Tethering is also not permitted.
Virgin Media is a virtual network operator, using the EE 3G (T-Mobile/Orange) network.
Source: Virgin Media