What’s a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO)? And what is piggybacking?

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) in the United Kingdom, is a company that provides mobile services to customers without owning the physical infrastructure of a mobile network.

Instead, MVNOs lease network capacity from established mobile network operators (MNOs) and then offer their services to customers under their own brand.

MVNOs typically buy bulk airtime and data from MNOs at wholesale rates and then package and sell these services to their customers at retail prices. They have the flexibility to offer customized plans, pricing, and services, catering to specific target markets or niche segments. MVNOs handle customer support, billing, and marketing, while the underlying network infrastructure is managed by the MNO.


also known as network sharing or wholesale access, is a practice where an MVNO utilizes the network infrastructure of an established MNO. The MVNO essentially piggybacks on the MNO’s network to provide mobile services to its customers. This allows the MVNO to avoid the significant cost and complexity of building and maintaining its own physical network infrastructure.

Piggybacking enables MVNOs to enter the mobile market with lower upfront investments and focus on delivering competitive services and customer experiences. It provides them with the opportunity to offer mobile services without the need for owning and managing expensive network equipment, base stations, or spectrum licenses.

Here is a list of some mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the United Kingdom. Please note that addresses may have changed, and there may be additional MVNOs not listed here.

  1. Giffgaff Website: www.giffgaff.com Address: Hertz House, 11 Vine Street, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 1QE
  2. Tesco Mobile Website: www.tescomobile.com Address: Tesco Mobile Limited, Dumers Lane, Radcliffe, Manchester, M26 2SY
  3. Virgin Mobile Website: www.virginmedia.com/mobile Address: Virgin Media Limited, Media House, Bartley Wood Business Park, Bartley Way, Hook, RG27 9UP
  4. Plusnet Mobile Website: www.plus.net/mobile Address: Plusnet PLC, The Balance, 2 Pinfold Street, Sheffield, S1 2GU
  5. BT Mobile Website: www.bt.com/mobile Address: BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street, London, EC1A 7AJ
  6. TalkTalk Mobile Website: www.talktalk.co.uk/shop/mobile Address: TalkTalk Telecom Limited, Soapworks, Ordsall Lane, Salford, Manchester, M5 3TT
  7. Lycamobile Website: www.lycamobile.co.uk Address: Lycamobile UK Limited, 3rd Floor, Walbrook Building, 195 Marsh Wall, London, E14 9SG
  8. Asda Mobile Website: www.asdamobile.com Address: Asda Stores Limited, Asda House, South Bank, Great Wilson Street, Leeds, LS11 5AD
  9. iD Mobile Website: www.idmobile.co.uk Address: iD Mobile Limited, Dixons Carphone Warehouse, Acton, London, W3 6RS
  10. Sky Mobile Website: www.sky.com/shop/mobile Address: Sky Subscribers Services Limited, Grant Way, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5QD

Please note that addresses and websites are subject to change, so it’s always a good idea to verify the information directly from the respective MVNO’s official website or contact them for the most up-to-date details.

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