What Network Does Virgin Mobile Use – A Complete Guideline

Virgin Mobile is a United Kingdom-based mobile phone service provider. Virgin Media, a subsidiary of Virgin Media O2, owns the service provider. As the first Mobile Virtual Network Operator, the Virgin Group launched the service provider in 1999. Since the company is an MVNO, it does not maintain its network towers. Therefore it leases its network from significant service providers in the UK. The article is ready to answer the question, what network does Virgin Mobile use?

Virgin Mobile is not a ‘well-mannered’ mobile network in the UK. The mobile operator rides along on other significant providers’ network towers. Trying to figure out which primary carrier provides the Virgin Mobile network is a bit complex since the service provider involves three different networks. The article will try and unpick it for you.

The article will also discuss how to check Virgin Mobile’s network coverage in your area, both for 5G plan subscribers and 4G plan subscribers. In addition, it explains each type of network coverage in more detail, including the network speeds you can expect on the MVNO. Finally, the article looks at the international network coverage you expect on Virgin Mobile when traveling overseas.

What network does Virgin Mobile use?

Since Virgin Group launched Virgin Mobile in 1999 until somewhat recently, the MVNO ran on the EE network. However, the actual logic is as follows. When the group first launched the company, it leased the One2One network. Later on, One2One became T-Mobile and merged with Orange to become EE. Subsequently, BT bought the EE network, a provider still with us.

In 2019, Virgin Mobile announced it was terminating its contract with EE and signing a deal with the Vodafone network from 2021. The transition started from January 2021 with new customers signing contracts with Virgin Mobile or upgrading to 5G service accessing Vodafone’s network.

As the transition was in process, many Virgin Mobile existing customers ran on EE until the transition was complete. However, the easy way to know whether you are on EE or Vodafone network is to contact Virgin Mobile customer care and ask them the type of network in your area.

Vodafone, Virgin’s new network host, is still the second-fastest provider in the UK. However, Vodafone’s median download speed (at 25.2Mbits/sec to 58.5Mbits/sec) is less than half of its competitor (EE). The network coverage is excellent but not as widespread as its competitors, especially in rural areas.

The article recommends that if there is a weak cell signal in those areas, you can purchase one of the best cell phone boosters for rural areas to enhance your network coverage. Vodafone’s reliability (Virgin Mobile) gets rated as exceptional, with awards for reliability in twelve out of sixteen of the UK’s major cities. Vodafone’s 5G performance could be better with only three out of sixteen UK’s major cities not recording 5G results.

Are you one of those people with the question, “Didn’t I read that Virgin Media had merged with O2?” Then why does the MVNO not use the O2 network? Indeed, Virgin Media, MVNO’s parent company, and O2 completed their merger in June 2021. Logically, you are expecting Virgin Mobile to soon be swapping once more to the O2 network, but that is not the case for the time being.

The virtual operator signed a five-year contract with Vodafone, which became effective from early 2021. However, Virgin Media O2 stated that in November 2019, they entered into a new 5-year MVNO contract with Vodafone that enabled the launch of 5G services for their mobile customers in the United Kingdom in January 2021. They further stated that following the development of the Joint Venture, they had given the notice to cancel the MVNO agreement.

It is difficult to say what the future holds for Virgin Mobile, as plans for O2 and Virgin services to merge, appear to clatter with its contract with Vodafone. It is worth noting that there is no information on when Virgin Mobile will start using the O2 network. However, this article will be updated if we get any more information.

What types of network coverage will you get on Virgin Mobile?

what network does virgin mobile use

The MVNO currently provides four different types of network coverage in the UK, namely 5G, 4G, 3G, and 2G coverages. Let’s discuss the network coverages in detail below.

i) Virgin Mobile 2G network coverage

Virgin Mobile offers 99% of the United Kingdom population coverage on 2G. This network lets them make and receive calls and texts and browse the internet at speeds of up to 0.3Mbps. Currently, Virgin Mobile customers hardly use this type of coverage.

However, it remains an applicable last resort when the latest types of coverage are not available. It is essential to know how to boost cell signal at home for free for improved 2G coverage.

When Virgin Mobile first launched in 1999, it provided 2G coverage from the One2One network, later branded as T-Mobile before merging with Orange to form EE.

ii) Virgin Mobile 3G Network coverage

You can call, text, and browse with 99% population coverage across the UK on Virgin Mobile’s 3G network. You can receive up to dual-carrier HSPA+ speeds of 42Mbps. However, the download speeds will usually be in the region of about 4Mbps. Vodafone’s 3G coverage on the MVNO gets provided irrespective of whether you have a 4G or 5G plan.

iii) Virgin Mobile 4G network coverage

In the United Kingdom, Virgin Mobile offers 99% population coverage on their 4G network. However, the exact locations where you’ll be able to get a 4G signal will depend on the distribution of network towers. For instance, in mountainous areas, forests, and hilly areas, you will find a weak 4G signal at some point, depending on how far the point is far from the nearest tower.

Luckily, this weak signal should not bother you since you can use the portable cell phone signal boosters for hiking to improve your 4G coverage. To check the 4G network coverage in the area you reside in, use Virgin Mobile’s online coverage map. You will need to enter your postcode to see 4G coverage in your area.

Virgin Mobile also provides Wi-Fi Calling and 4G calling to customers with a compatible Pay Monthly mobile phone and plan.

iv) Virgin Mobile 5G network coverage

Virgin Mobile launched its 5G network in January 2021. The 5G network coverage is currently available in more than 100 UK towns and cities. If you’re on Virgin Mobile’s 5G service and 5G-ready plan, you will have access to a download speed of 176Mbps on Virgin Mobile’s 5G network. This speed is almost 4.5 times faster than Virgin Mobile’s 4G network, which offers a download speed of 37Mbps.

How is Virgin Mobile’s international coverage?

If you are traveling overseas with your Virgin Mobile phone or SIM card, you can use your cell phone abroad through international roaming. If you’re traveling to most European destinations, it is possible to roam at no extra cost on Virgin. 

If you are traveling outside Europe, the costs of using your cellphone abroad will depend on the nation you’re visiting. The availability of network coverage abroad differs depending on the country you’re traveling to stay.

What are Virgin Mobile’s network speeds?

Consider the Vodafone’s download/upload speeds comparison according to OpenSignal research in September 2021 of the four major UK networks below.

  • Vodafone (Virgin Mobile)- 21.6/7.4 Mbps
  • EE- 44/9.7Mbps
  • Three- 25.2/6.3Mbps
  • O2- 17.1/5.4Mbps

According to the OpenSignal report of September 2021, Vodafone (Virgin Mobile) has an average upload speed of 7.4Mbps and an average download speed of 21.6Mbps. These network speeds are for a combination of 5G, 4G, and 3G, so Virgin Mobile subscribers with access to its 5G network can probably expect the same speeds.

How does a Virgin Mobile signal booster work?

Are you one of Virgin Mobile’s customers suffering from poor network coverage? Then Virgin Mobile signal booster, also known as an internet booster, is one of the top items you should purchase. But how does an internet booster work?

This device is designed to boost the Virgin Mobile signal. The outdoor antenna catches a weak signal from the nearest network tower then passes it through the cable to the amplifier. Subsequently, the amplifier will strengthen the signal while the inside antenna will rebroadcast the amplified within its coverage area.

Bottom line

Virgin Mobile is a well-known Mobile Virtual Network Operator operating in the United Kingdom. Since it is an MVNO, it uses another provider’s infrastructure for network coverage. In that case, it uses the Vodafone network for 99% 4G and 5G coverage.

Virgin Mobile’s network has average download and upload speeds of 21.6 and 7.4Mbps, respectively, which are reasonably good. Its 5G coverage will also improve as Vodafone’s does, so if you can’t get Virgin Mobile 5G in your area, you will likely get it sooner or later.