%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%You can now add SIM-only mobile services to a TV, broadband and home phone bundle with Virgin Media. But will the 'quad play' option save you money?
Virgin Media has launched its full range of 'quad-play' Big Bundles, which come with home phone, unlimited superfast broadband, digital TV and the option of SIM-only mobile services in a single package.
The first Big Bundles ('Big Kahuna' and 'Big Bang') were launched in May for existing Virgin Media customers, but 'Big Easy' and 'Big Daddy' have joined the line-up, which is now open to all.
With these deals you can create the UK's only 'quad play' package, with the chance to add one of two 3G SIM-only deals, exclusively available with the bundles.
For £5 a month extra you can get 250MB of data as well as unlimited texts and minutes. Or there is the 1GB deal, available for £8 a month extra, which also comes with unlimited texts and minutes.
With more flexibility to mix and match this looks like the next step in bundling services with one provider, but will it actually save you money?
The Big Bundles
Here's what you can get from the new range of Big Bundles and what you pay with a 250MB SIM-only deal included.
Free day, evening, weekend, 0845, 0870 and Virgin Mobile calls
250MB data, unlimited calls and unlimited texts*
£80.99 for first six months
£1,081.88 (includes £100 credit available if you apply before 23rd June)
*1GB SIM available for £3 extra a month
All of the deals come with unlimited superfast broadband and are available on an 18-month contract.
The SIM-only optional extra is available on a shorter 12-month contract. After the first year you can roll over the deal or downgrade to just the home phone, broadband and digital TV and pay £5 less a month (or £8 less if you go for the 1GB deal).
If you sign up before 1st July, you can get £10-£35 off per month for the first six months. Plus you can save between £50 and £100 if you sign up before 23rd June, which is applied as a credit to your bill.
Line rental costs £15.99 per month on all deals, but you can pay the equivalent of £13.33 per month if you can pay £144 for a year upfront.
Below are the cheapest unlimited fibre broadband, digital TV and home phone deals from Sky, BT and Talk Talk compared to Virgin Media's cheapest offer (I've removed the £5 a month SIM-only option to directly compare cost).
As you can see Virgin Media's Big Easy is the cheapest deal which offers unlimited superfast broadband, TV and phone at the moment, mainly because of its introductory £50 discount offer.
Without it, Talk Talk is cheaper.
But once coupled with a SIM-only service, it's clear to see that Virgin Media's deal is better value even without the discount.
At the moment you can't find a cheaper SIM-only deal with unlimited texts and minutes compared to the exclusive deal Virgin Media offers with its Big Bundles. Deals around the £5 mark offer far less.
The cheapest comparable unlimited minutes and texts SIM-only deal open to all is a Virgin Media 30-day SIM-only, which also comes with 2GB of data for £15 a month. That works out at £180 a year – £120 more than going for the exclusive 250MB SIM-only deal or £84 more than going for the 1GB option available on Big Bundles.
So the total first year cost of the deals above rise to £431.85 (Virgin Media Big Easy plus exclusive 250MB SIM-only), £552.90 (Talk Talk plus cheapest comparable SIM-only), £767.83 (BT plus cheapest comparable SIM-only) and £770.25 (Sky plus cheapest comparable SIM-only).
I've tried to compare Virgin Media's cheapest unlimited deal on a like for like basis, but you might want different things from each of your services so it's important you compare costs yourself. Head to broadbandchoices.com to search for deals on TV, home phone and broadband bundles and use Recombu to compare SIM-only deals.
Strangest gadget stories revealed
Virgin Media launches first 'quad play' bundles
I was out shooting one day when my mobile phone rang. The gamekeeper confiscated it, threw it into the air and gave it both barrels of a 12 bore shotgun!
I was doing an aqua aerobics class, but left my phone in my pocket and didn’t discover it had been underwater for about half-an-hour. I decided that I would try and dry it in a sauna. Once dry I turned it on and it gave a couple of feeble flashes before dying completely.
My grandson thought it was not right for my phone to be left out on a cold day on the kitchen table instead of being put away in its cover, so he put it in the microwave to warm it up. He set the microwave on full power for an hour but it blew up long before that, along with my Samsung Galaxy.
I jumped into a swimming pool to escape a wasp, unfortunately with my mobile in my hand.
I was on holiday in Egypt and, after sunbathing for 20 minutes, I decided to go for a swim in the ocean, forgetting I had put my mobile phone in my cleavage for safekeeping. I didn’t notice until I’d been in the sea for 10 minutes, and by that time my phone had stopped working.
I went shopping for a frozen turkey and as I leaned in to try and lug a very large bird from the supermarket freezer my phone fell out of my pocket and into the bottom of the freezer. I could not reach it and had to go and seek help from a sales assistant who was taller than me. When we returned to the freezer, my phone had gone!
I once left my mobile on an armchair. When I returned my mother’s dog had decided that he liked the taste and had eaten nearly all of it.
I couldn't find my phone indoors anywhere. I went into the garden later on to find that my dog had put it in the birdbath.
My little brother took my mobile phone and destroyed it with a hammer.
My nephew put my tablet in the washing up bowl because he said it was dirty.
My four-year-old son purposely dropped my phone into a fish tank because he wanted me to buy a new BlackBerry.
I dunked my phone in my tea because I got distracted and thought it was a biscuit.
I’d had my new phone for just six days, and went to Tottenham play at White Hart Lane. Gareth Bale scored and I jumped up to celebrate whilst grabbing my phone to text my wife, dropped it and smashed the screen.
I left my Nokia phone on the living room table and went off to the kitchen to make a cuppa. When I returned my eight-month-old dog Scooby was looking a bit sheepish. About an hour later I found my mobile in Scooby's water bowl.
I was decorating our living room and had my phone in my breast pocket. As I leant over to dip a brush in a five-litre pot of paint the phone fell out and into the bottom of it.