NOT ONE but two new mobile networks have joined the ranks of MVNO operators in the UK today - new sister brands for the big boys.
SMARTY from Three is aimed at SIM-only deals with transparent pricing.
For £5 per month (base), plus £1.25 per gigabyte, you get a no-frills phone service. No Spotify. No free roaming. Just the basics. In fact, at launch, roaming isn't available at all, though it is expected at some point.
You can also buy some monthly base bundles - £7.50 for 2GB, £10 for 4GB and £15 for 8GB. Better still, any unused GB credit will be refunded back to you for the following month.
It's a return to a more civilised mobile age in many ways, as pioneered by Sky Mobile last year, which was the first company in many a long year to allow rollover data.
Meanwhile Vodafone has announced Voxi, a network specifically aimed at the ‘yoof' segment of the market - it's actually officially aimed at under 25s.
Again a SIM-only MVNO, it allows users to work with social and chat apps - including Facebook Messenger, Instagram. Whatsapp, Twitter and Snapchat to name a few, without it eating into their data.
The morality of doing this under net neutrality rules is questionable, but the wording has been careful, as it was when Three started its "Binge" campaign for streaming, and EE's ongoing free Apple Music subscription - it's not giving you free or prioritised data. It's paying for it for you. Subtle, but enough to satisfy the lawyers.
The 30-day 4G plans are 2GB/£10, 5GB/£15 and 15GB/£20 with unlimited calls and texts. If you run out of data, you can still use the bundled apps or buy more for 1GB/£3. It's a significantly more expensive deal than SMARTY but it does offer more chance of freebies.
The difficulty is going to be that unless you can analyse how you use your data beforehand, you won't know if Voxi will be right for you.
Voxi also plans to offer "passes" to video and music content without busting their data allowance too but those will be added later.
Voxi and SMARTY join the plethora of existing MVNOs including ID Mobile from Dixons Carphone, Virgin Mobile as well as offerings from most of the major supermarkets and those aimed at those calling abroad like Lebara.
This year has also seen the further rise of the international virtual SIM with services like ChatSIM which offers text and messaging for £12 a year globally. µ
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