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Virgin Mobile broadband plans compared June 2018

Owned by Optus, Virgin Mobile differentiates itself from other mobile broadband providers with some unique service offerings.

Optus has announced that it plans on shutting down the Virgin Mobile brand by 2020. As such, you may want to reconsider if you intend on signing up for a new Virgin Mobile plan.

Alongside its regular mobile phone plans, Virgin Mobile offers a range of mobile broadband services to data-hungry Australians. While many of Virgin Mobile’s competitors offer traditional broadband plans over NBN, ADSL and other technologies, Virgin Mobile is squarely in the mobile broadband camp, providing a variety of services delivered over the Optus 3G and 4G networks.

Virgin Mobile mobile broadband plans

Utilising the Optus 4G network (and 3G where 4G isn’t available), Virgin Mobile offers a range of mobile broadband plans on month-by-month and 12-month terms. Typically, the 12-month plans offer more data for your money, with caps going all the way up to 140GB each month.

Firstly, here are the month-by-month plans:

  • Mobile Broadband 3GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 9GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 15GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 25GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 60GB for a month

Along with the basic service, all the month-to-month plans of $30 or more come with data-free music streaming through Spotify, Google Play Music and iHeartRadio. No device is included with these plans, though, so you'll need to pop the provided SIM card into a compatible Wi-Fi dongle, a 4G modem or any other device that takes a SIM. While you can use these data-only SIMs in a smartphone, be mindful that no calls or SMS services are included or supplied.

For those happy to make a longer-term commitment, the reward is significantly more data. Here's what you get on Virgin Mobile's 12-month plans:

  • Mobile Broadband 3GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 12GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 20GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 40GB for a month
  • Mobile Broadband 80GB for a month

Like its month-to-month plans, Virgin Mobile bundles in data-free streaming for Google Play Music, Spotify and iHeartRadio on all 12-month plans of $30 or more. Those same plans also come with a 4G Wi-Fi modem at no extra cost. If you don’t need one, you can always opt for just a SIM card instead. However, given the 4G Wi-Fi modem is free, you might as well take it. You never know when it might be helpful!

Regardless of contract term, all Virgin Mobile's mobile Bredbånd plans include the following bonuses:

  • Data Gifting, which allows customers to share their data with friends on Virgin Mobile postpaid plans.
  • Data Rollover, allowing customers to roll unused data over to the next month.
  • Data-free music, as described above.
  • 4G for Real, offering access to all of the Optus 4G Plus network for faster speeds.

If you exceed your monthly data allowance on any of Virgin Mobile's mobile broadband plans, you'll be automatically charged $10 and granted an extra 1GB of data for that month only. You'll continue to be charged at this rate until your allowance resets at the end of your current billing cycle.

On any 12-month contract, you'll need to pay an early cancellation fee if you want to terminate your service before the full year is up. This fee is calculated at 25% of your monthly bill times the number of months remaining on your contract, plus the leftover payments on the bundled 4G modem, if you opted for it.

How does Virgin Mobile compare?

When comparing mobile broadband providers, cost isn’t the only consideration. Customers also need to consider mobile network coverage in the places where they’re likely to use the service. For example, if you’re looking to find a service for home but you have no Optus 4G coverage, then any service provider (like Virgin Mobile) using Optus 4G might not be a great option.

It should also go without saying that, generally, mobile broadband providers can’t compete with fixed-line providers, at least on cost. While mobile broadband can exceed the speed of even the NBN in some cases, the included data allowances are usually much less.

How do Virgin Mobile's month-to-month plans compare?

Firstly, let’s compare the month-by-month plans. As a starting point, a month for 3GB is a good deal. Most other providers charge a bit more, or offer less:

Stepping up to Virgin Mobile’s 9GB plan, the competition gets a little heavier. Some providers offer less and charge (in some cases, considerably) more, whereas many other providers charge about the same for similar inclusions:

For 15GB a month, Virgin Mobile has some serious competition: Vaya and Jeenee both offer the same data for even c per month:

At the 25GB mark, Virgin Mobile’s asking price is starting to look a little expensive. You can get the same from Lebara for significantly less, though at least you're not spending as much as Telstra charges. You can also get a smidge more data from Catch Connect over the same Optus network for less:

At the top of its monthly plans, Virgin Mobile’s 60GB offering is tough to compare as no other providers offer precisely this amount of data. For a hair less, Jeenee will sell you 70GB on the same Optus network, while Vaya's 50GB plan is the superior "budget" option.

How do Virgin Mobile's 12-month plans compare?

Including more data in exchange for your 12-month commitment, you’d imagine that there’s better value to be found in Virgin's longer contract term. This is true to some degree, however you can get a bit more data elsewhere and in some cases on the same network too:

Step it up to 20GB, and Virgin Mobile is outdone by Exetel, which offers 25GB for the same price. Vodafone, meanwhile, will match Virgin's offer, as will Telstra, surprisingly.

Virgin Mobile’s 40GB plan is rather unique, with other carriers opting for different data inclusions. However, for a bit more per month, Telstra’s 40GB plan stands out as rather good value against Virgin Mobile’s plan, and Exetel's 60GB offering makes Virgin Mobile’s plan less appealing.

As a trend emerges, you might begin to expect Virgin Mobile’s 80GB plan might not be especially good value, but it holds its own against plans from the likes of Exetel and Spintel. If you’re looking for huge amounts of data, however, you can get it for just a little extra from Southern Phone or Optus.

Why should you consider Virgin Mobile Broadband?

Virgin Mobile offers a mix of monthly and 12-month plans which, at the lower end, are quite competitive. However, as is often the case with larger brands, there are better offers from smaller competitors with (presumably) fewer overheads.

As you increase the inclusions and price, the difference in value changes from a few dollars each month to potentially much, much more. For the data hungry, for example, Optus’ mobile broadband plans cannot be beaten, and Virgin Mobile, using the same underlying network can’t come close.

If this is so, why would you consider Virgin Mobile Broadband over other offerings? For starters, Virgin Mobile maintains a network of retail shopfronts, meaning you don’t need to sign-up online or wait for a SIM card to be delivered.

You can walk in, sign up, and walk out with a service ready to go. Equally, when (or if) things go wrong, you can access support in a shop rather than being forced onto the phone (or worse, online). For customers who value face-to-face customer service and convenience, many smaller providers simply cannot compete.

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