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T-Mobile merger creates Virgin mobile blackspots

Virgin Media 3G dongle

By Barry Collins

Posted on 26 Jan 2011 at 07:32

Some Virgin Media mobile broadband customers have lost their connections, after becoming the indirect victims of the T-Mobile/Orange merger.

Virgin Media is a virtual network that piggybacks on T-Mobile’s 3G services. However, T-Mobile has decommissioned some of its 3G masts in areas that are already covered by Orange, leading to some customers being disconnected. The problem affects both Virgin Mobile customers and those who buy 3G broadband dongles from Virgin Media.

As T-Mobile and Orange integrate their mobile networks, there may be some isolated incidents where signal strength is disrupted

Shropshire-based PC Pro reader Crawford Coulson lost his Virgin connection in the middle of December. When he contacted Virgin’s customer services for an explanation, he was told “the postcode you have supplied is one of the areas in which the T-Mobile signal has been removed and the Orange signal has taken over”.

He was told that he wouldn’t be able to make use of the Orange mast and was offered the chance to leave the network.

A spokesman for Virgin Media told PC Pro that its customers would eventually be granted access to both T-Mobile and Orange. “As T-Mobile and Orange integrate their mobile networks, there may be some isolated incidents where signal strength is disrupted,” the spokesman claimed.

“We understand that not having a mobile signal at home can be inconvenient and will offer alternatives wherever possible. We’re working with Everything Everywhere [the new company formed by the T-Mobile/Orange merger] to ensure any customer disruption is minimal and, as the network integration is completed, all Virgin Media customers stand to benefit from improved nationwide mobile coverage.”

Virgin Media offered to supply the PC Pro reader with a landline connection until service resumed in his area.

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User comments

Merger creates blackspots

The same is true for those who have 3 mobiles as well. They used to have an agreement to use Orange masts where 3 reception was poor, but this agreement was terminated by the merger. My girlfriend used to use 3 for her business, but had to switch because she suddenly had absolutely no reception at home. At least 3 were good about it.

By jgwilliams on 26 Jan 2011

Harley Pete

I am an Orange customer who now uses the option to use both Orange and T-mobile coverage. Interestingly enough, I have no marked improvement in reception over previous times. So for me, in the majority of areas that I pass through it has had no benefit. I still get very poor/no reception in my home, and, dependant on direction of travel, can loose signal almost the majority of my journey to work.

By hawg_wild on 27 Jan 2011

3G masts?

Hold on - how can they be turning off 3G masts when the Orange signal sharing stuff doesn't even work with 3G yet?!

T-Mobile's 3G coverage is the one main reason I've stayed with them!

(And even once we can use Orange's 3G transmitters, I think they need to come up with a better way of merging the networks than phones having to roam to Orange, before they start turning any of their own transmitters off)

By EddyM on 27 Jan 2011


Where is the regulator in this?
Is there opinion to stick there head in the sand and hope it will go away aa they did with the banks & we have seen what hapens there.

By andy_macleod on 27 Jan 2011

That explains it

Orange signal in Mid Wales has grown steadily worse over the past few years, now the local Orange signal seems to have disappeared from home altogether, giving my 3 mobile nowhere to roam to! Glad my contract expires next week, now!

By mspritch on 27 Jan 2011

3 customers - no consideration

I had two contracts with 3 mobile, as previously mentioned they used the orange network masts in my local area.

No warning what so ever, and it cost me a month of problems and money until I eventually got the codes to move to another supplier.

I must say I was very happy with 3 mobile up until this point, good value for money, but yes poor customer service via the call centres.

Surely when these mergers take place, someone needs to consider the wider implications. I think this needs to be looked into by the appropriate watchdog organisation.

By Keiths20 on 27 Jan 2011

3G woes do not stop there!

The other problem is that if you are T-mobile or Orange customer you can connect to both (after on-line/text agreement). However if you have 3G switched 'on' the phone will occasionally simply not connect. 2G is fine but alas there you go, 3 days after the merger and they offer something that was simply not tried and tested and as the average upstanding telecoms companies both will attempt mask out their shortcomings.

By photomanlondon on 27 Jan 2011


The same as the top commentor happened to me. My "Three" mobile suddenly lost reception at a clients I spend a few days a month at and it was the Orange service being removed from "Three". Add this to the "Threee like home" that was removed the month after I started working in Ireland and I get this shrinking offering feeling.

By jason_jac2 on 27 Jan 2011


I agree that this makes the regulator look lax or dilatory

One of the requirements for the Orange/T-mobile merger being allowed was that it would not impact on prior arrangements with other client companies which had been made by only one of the partners.

One example given was the 3g arrangements between 3 and T-mobile, but from this story it looks like Virgin and its customers have been done over.

By andy962 on 29 Jan 2011

Tmobile orange data problem

As a tmobile payg user with a data booster package I have been advised that if I opt in to Orange signal I may not get data or will be additionally charged.

By burbi on 2 Feb 2011

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