Virgin Mobile has announced the launch of what it says is the UK’s best value monthly tariff for £8.50.

Virgin Mobile will be the first mobile service provider in the UK to offer new and existing customers a mobile contract package that breaks the £9 barrier recently set by rival operator 3.

Available from 10 February, the monthly package will include 100 minutes and 100 texts, as well as a free handset including a choice of two 5-megapxiel camera phones the Samsung G600 and the LG KC550.

In addition, the 3G Nokia 3120 with free instant messenger for 6 months is also available on this tariff.

“In these financially challenging times where customers are tightening their purse-strings, our market leading £8.50 monthly package will allow people to stay in touch without the added worry of a hefty phone bill", says Graeme Oxby, MD of Virgin Mobile.