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The Tesco Mobile network is not strictly a network itself and is classed as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). After the success of Virgin, the UK's first MVNO, it's not surprising that others were to follow suit and so Tesco Mobile launched its MVNO service using the O2 network signal, which in turn offers its customers a 99% signal coverage in the UK.
Using another network for its operation has saved Tesco Mobile the cost of investing in its own infrastructure and this has given its customer base several advantages and these include great value call rates. Tesco Mobile's focus has clearly been on offering value for money deals and offers similar tariffs to Virgin Mobile who are a MVNO supported by the Orange and T-Mobile 2G and 3G networks.
By 2012 the company had grown its UK's customer base to 3.2-million users along with 100,000 users in the Republic of Ireland where the O2 Ireland network signal is used. Tesco also has joint ventures in Hungary and Slovakia.
The Tesco Mobile story began in 2007 and the service now includes a wide range of phones that are available on both pay monthly tariffs and pay as you go tariffs. Tesco also offers SIM only deals for those who wish to switch network but keep their old phone. Also offering several value-added features to its customers such as Clubcard points for every £1 spent on the consumers monthly bill or top-ups.
Tesco Mobile has also been recognised by the mobile phone industry and has won several awards. In 2011 'Which' surveyed over 8,000 members of the public and were asked to rate their network considering cost, range of available handsets, customer service and the accuracy of their bills. For contract customers Tesco Mobile came out on top with a 74% satisfaction score and are now recognised by Which as a recommended provider.
In May of 2010 J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information service, conducted its 13th annual study of customer satisfaction with pre-pay (pay as you go) plans. Tesco Mobile ranked highest overall across six factors: call quality/coverage, customer service, billing and topping up, offerings and promotions, cost of the service and finally the performance of the handset. 2010 also provided Tesco Mobile with the 'Winner for best network Pay as you go' award from uSwitch.com.
In 2012 Tesco Mobile launched its Family Perks advertising campaign to attract whole families over to the network with a choice of perks such as 150 extra minutes to any network, 250MB extra data for mobile surfing or 500 extra minutes to Tesco Mobile phones.
Today, the Tesco Mobile virtual network is still incredibly popular offering media rich handsets such as the Blackberry Curve 9300 on pay monthly and the Samsung Chat 335 on pay as you go.