Giffgaff – the “people powered” mobile network

I recently stumbled across this new UK mobile network, and I have to say – it’s a dream come true for me.

They are a very interesting phone network because they are unique in many ways. When you’ve got your SIM card running and you’re using the network, it all seems very standard and basic – but take a look under the hood and you’ll notice a very clever concept.

The basic idea behind giffgaff is very simple. They cut all the expensive marketing and support services and replace them with much cheaper and efficient solutions. By doing this, they can provide a mobile phone service that is considerably cheaper than competitors whilst having happy customers.

For example, they don’t do telephone customer service. Instead, they provide an online community forum that people can submit problems to and members of the network respond with possible solutions. There are also moderators and managers who can help with the slightly more technical problems. And for peace of mind, they also provide an “Ask an Agent” service for the people who need administrative help such as call bars and setup help.

They don’t own any masts – these are provided by O2 and work pretty well. 3G coverage is not brilliant (O2 have always had a bad reputation for 3G coverage) but 2G is coverage is very good for calls and texts. You’ll get 3G in large towns and cities but don’t expect to get it in your rural countryside home.

That brings me nicely onto the subject of costs. They are trying to keep things simple by simply providing one pay as you go tariff. The basic cost of this tariff is as follows:

  • FREE calls (anytime) to other giffgaff members (as long as you top up £10 per 3 months)
  • FREE texts (anytime) to other giffgaff members (as long as you top up £10 per 3 months)
  • 8p per minute calls (flat rate, anytime) to any other UK landline or mobile phone
  • 4p per text to any UK phone.
  • 8p per call to voicemail
  • FREE (100MB per day FUP) internet usage until 25th May 2010 (as long as you top up £10 per 3 months), internet price after that date to be confirmed
  • FREE calls to any 0800 number (I believe you have to remove the 0 at the beginning – ie 800 not 0800 – no longer true, just dial the number as normal and it’s free), and many other freephone numbers including 0500 and 0808 numbers.

So as you can you see, it’s pretty good value. They haven’t sorted bundles (eg for texts or calls) yet, but as far as I am aware, they are working on that.

If you’d like to give it a try, head over to and request your free SIM. You’ll have to pay £10 when you get it to activate it (this will give you £10 credit) and you’ll be away within a few minutes of activation.

I really love it and I’m pretty sure 3 will be losing my custom as I’m not impressed by their upcoming price increase. I suggest you give it a try. You’ll need an unlocked phone – that’s it.

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