Over the next few weeks we’re taking a look at the many MVNO’s here in the UK. That acronym, by the way, is just fancy talk for a network using masts owned or operated by others. With the shift and merger of Orange and T-Mobile into “EE” you, as an Orange customer let’s say, could actually be using bits of the old T-Mobile network. You don’t notice any difference and, in my opinion, we should start bringing these MVNO’s out from the shadows a little more.
Today, TalkTalk. They run on the Vodafone network and offer contract mobiles, monthly rolling plans and SIM-only deals. They also, at the time of writing, have some “double data” offers if you order online. As an example, I looked at the HTC One in silver, which you can get for free at just £25 per month on a 2 year contract. This is for their “Small” plan and, as I type, gives you 200MB data, 250 texts and 100 minutes. You can bump that up to £30 on the “Medium” and get 550 minutes talk-time (usually 300), 3000 text messages and 1GB of data (usually 500MB). The “Large” plan is £40 per month and gives you 1250 minutes (usually 1000), 3000 texts and a pretty healthy 4GB of data (usually 2GB).
All plans include some “Built in savings” which include the usual free text alerts, free voicemail and free calls to their help centre, but it also includeds unlimited family calls too. TalkTalk have added a 400 minutes allowance so that you can call other TalkTalk mobiles.
Seems pretty cheap doesn’t it? A brand-new HTC One with no up-front cost for just £25 per month? That’s rather good, and getting 1GB of data on the £30 plan is very decent too. Well. there’s a slight catch to all this. In order to get these offers you’ll need to be a TalkTalk customer, so you’ll need to have phone or broadband with them.
It’s a little like the Virgin Mobile network, but here there’s no additional charge for non-customers, you just can’t have it. However, lots of people are TalkTalk customers at home and, like many other networks, TalkTalk are trying to get their existing customers added to other services that they provide. Based on these contract deals, if I were a TalkTalk customer at home, I’d go for it.
Their SIM only deals include a monthly rolling contract or a 12-month contract. Again, the “double data” deal is available at the time of writing, but if you don’t need data you can have a monthly £5 deal which gives you 75 minutes talk-time and 150 texts. For £10 per month you get 1GB of data (normally 500MB), 300 minutes talk-time and 3000 texts. Their “Large” plan (which is £17.50 per month) gives you 1000 minutes, 3000 texts and 4GB data, which is normally 2GB. Again, there’s “Unlimited Family Calls” too.
A SIM only 12 month contract will bag you 300 minutes talk-time, 3000 texts and 1GB of data for £7.50 per month on the “Medium” plan and 1000 minutes, 3000 texts and 4GB data for £15 per month, so you’re saving yourself £2.50 per month on the “Medium” and “Large” SIM only plans if you sign-up for a 12 month plan rather than a monthly one. The “Small” plan isn’t available on a 12 month contract.
Are there any snags? Well, according to their own FAQ section it seems that iPhones aren’t supported on SIM only plans and they don’t offer them on their site. BlackBerry handsets are sold and Blackberry users can add BB services with the Blackberry Boost add on. Those “included Family Calls” are basically others with TalkTalk mobile packages linked to your main TalkTalk landline.
All in all, if you’re a TalkTalk customer with a phone at home, broadband and TV, this is pretty much a no-brainer. There’s a healthy data allowance, good packages and a pretty decent selection of handsets, although don’t expect the Apple iPhone to be one of them.