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.
*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.
Compare broadband deals
How they compare
As no other provider offers a 'quad play' service it's not possible to draw a direct comparison, but it's not hard to gauge the value of Virgin Media's deals when you break them down.
Let's take the Big Easy deal for example.
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.