Mobile Phone Networks: Real or Virtual

Virtual and Real Assistants; Virtual and Real Servers; everyday technology has progressed over the years and decades.

Mobile Phone Networks can be found as Real or Virtual.

In this article we explain the difference between a Real Mobile Network and a Virtual Mobile Network.

Real Mobile Phone Network

A Real Network owns, operates and maintains masts, transmitters and infrastructure to transmit calls and text messages across the air waves.

Virtual Mobile Phone Network

A Virtual Network does not own, operate or maintain masts, transmitters and infrastructure to transmit calls and text messages.

How does a mobile phone Virtual Network operate ?

A Virtual Network will rent masts, equipment, and infrastructure, or buy minutes in bulk from a Real Network.

The Virtual Network will get a good discount for buying minutes in bulk.

The Virtual Network can then add a percentage which is then charged to the end user - the caller, and the Virtual Network makes their profit by selling on the minutes.

Real and Virtual Network Examples

As an example, Vodafone is a Real Network - Asda is a Virtual Network.

If you use an Asda SIM card, your calls and text messages actually go across the Vodafone network - Asda uses Vodafone's masts, transmitters and infrastructure.

Tip:

If you experience signal issues and choose to change Network in an attempt to improve signal strength or coverage, it would be a good idea to check that you are not moving from a Real Network to a Virtual Network that uses the masts, transmitters and infrastructure of the Network that you are currently on.

For example, if you currently use Vodafone then move to Asda, your signal issue will more than likely not improve because the Virtual Network of Asda actually uses the same masts, transmitters and infrastructure as Vodafone.

The opposite also applies - moving from Asda to Vodafone for the exact same reasons.

Below is a list of Virtual Networks and their associated Real Network

Virtual Network:                                    Corresponding Real Network (United Kingdom):

Lebara; Talk Mobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Vodafone

Lycamobile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Orange

Tesco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .O2 ( 02 )

Virgin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . T - Mobile

Asda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Everything Everywhere (Orange T-Mobile merger).

SIMsurprise.co.uk hopes that this article has helped raise awareness of the difference between Real and Virtual Mobile Phone Networks.

You might also like to read our article MVNA MVNE MVNO MNO.


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Tim Austin writes articles about various aspects of the Mobile Phone industry.

More articles are available by visiting www.SIMsurprise.co.uk