My wife and I have identical Iphone 6s mobiles. Both bought directly from Apple, so not locked. I have a sim-only package from VM. My wife a similar package from Vodaphone.
In terms of coverage and strength of signal, the Vodaphone sim wins hands down in both areas. Whether on holidays(Cornwall), country, home(Surrey) and, today, in deepest Dorset/Somerset where I get one or no bars, my wife’s phone will be three bars. During the past 2-3 years VM service strength never bests that from Vodaphone in fringe areas.
So, my point is whether Vodaphone packs a more powerful signal. Why? Even under our nearest EE tower I will get 4 bars compared to 5 from Vodaphone. Does VM sell a lesser quality feed obtained via EE ?
I pay monthly, no contract and have been with VM mobile sim only service for years. Perhaps time to pay a little more and move provider? Is this a known experience with VM users.
You're comparing apples and oranges, to an extent. Firstly Virgin isn't a network operator so you need to compare, say, a Vodafone MVNO with an EE MVNO - or Vodafone with EE. As others have pointed out, Virgin doesn't have access to all of EE's coverage for (very valid) technical reasons - and that can make a comparison in some locations skewed.
Secondly, Vodafone's network is built using different "ground rules" to EE. Vodafone have always used low-band frequencies as the base of their network, which does have an advantage in rural areas, but this can be easily mitigated by good radio planning on EE's part. Having higher frequencies gives you an advantage in urban areas, but that can also be mitigated by increased site placement, i.e. more masts. A combination of the two is a good mix.
EE operate their whole network themselves, whereas Vodafone have limited control over their network in the east of the country (thanks to the structure of their "network" share with O2), and this can cause some local issues in some circumstances. In the west of the country, conversely this can cause O2 some issues.
It's true to say that an EE SIM can and will perform better than a Virgin SIM in locations where EE's low-band 800Mhz spectrum is in use, providing that EE SIM has 4G-calling.. and for every user that benefits from Virgin's move to Vodafone, there'll doubtless be someone that suffers. So you simply can't say that the move is "good for everyone" or "bad for everyone" - all users will be different. Vodafone doesn't have the same issues with restricting low-band access that EE does, but then they have other hindrances instead.
You really need to compare a Vodafone (not VodaPHOne, by the way!!) device with an EE-VoLTE (4G-calling) device to make a fair comparison. Otherwise compare with a Vodafone MVNO which could well not perform like your Vodafone device does.
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just for interest and to create more confusion it's now 23rd October 2020 and the planned virgin move to vodaphone may not be on as virgin and O2 have recently announced a merger, I have always had good reception with O2 , not so much with virgin , maybe that will change