Virgin Media: Best Choice for Broadband in 2019
Virgin Media is one of the best known TV, broadband and home phone providers in the UK, and unsurprisingly make up one of the top three in terms of subscribers. Its range of cable services - having the only major cable network in the country - is a key differentiator between Virgin and its competitors. Beyond this, Virgin is also a major player in mobile services, which it provides to over three million UK customers.
About Virgin Media
Coaxial cables have allowed the company to reach significantly faster speeds than other major players, or indeed any provider offering FTTC (Fibre to the cabinet) broadband. In fact, according to an Ofcom survey, Virgin is the only major provider with above-average customer satisfaction for broadband speeds.
But, particularly compared to its biggest rivals, Virgin Media is quite new to telecommunications. We’ve all long been familiar with the Virgin brand, but a little more than ten years ago would in no way associate it with TV or internet. Even for a company with an eye on space travel, its rise has been astronomical - let’s take a quick look at its trajectory.
The Virgin brand began in 1970 as Virgin Mail Order, with founder Richard Branson selling cut-price records by post. A year later he opened a music store in Oxford Street, London, and the year after that an accompanying recording studio. The store went on to be the first branch of the global Virgin Megastore brand, which is now closed in many parts of the world but is still active in countries across the Middle East.
Virgin shifted from the music industry to transatlantic travel later in the 70s, but it wasn’t until 1999 with the birth of Virgin Mobile that Branson and co. ventured into the world of telecommunications. In just the same way that Virgin’s airline venture led to expansion within travel (with Virgin Trains and even Virgin Orbit, which aims to commercialise space travel), Virgin Mobile was only the beginning here.
While Virgin was breaking into the mobile market, two companies - NTL and Telewest - were emerging as the UK’s leading cable companies. Telewest introduced the UK’s first cable broadband service in 2000 (a whopping 512 Kb of broadband for £50/m) and had NTL to compete with until 2006, when the two companies merged to form a network which passed over half of UK homes. Later that year NTL-Telewest also purchased Virgin Mobile, creating the UK’s first ‘quad play’ provider - operating in TV, internet, phone and mobile services. In 2007, NTL-Telewest became Virgin Media.
From here a summary of Virgin’s contribution to advances in the industry need to be a bit more concise - we could be here all day:
- 2006 - NTL and Telewest merge. NTL-Telewest purchase Virgin Mobile.
- 2007 - NTL-Telewest rebrand as Virgin Media.
- 2009 - DOCSIS 3 introduced, 50 Mb broadband reached.
- 2010 - VHD TV box. 100 Mb broadband service. TiVo service launched. First company to launch 3D content.
- 2011 - Virgin reach 1bn video on demand views in a year.
- 2012 - New 120 Mb speed helps UK raise average broadband speed. Brings WiFi to the underground (used by 1m). Virgin TV Anywhere launched.
- 2013 - Super Hub launched (UK’s fastest wireless hub). Reaches 3.1m mobile customers, 4.9m cable customers, 1.5m TiVo customers, and is used by 48,000 businesses. Liberty Global buys Virgin Media.
Nowadays, as we’ve mentioned, Virgin Media is one of the best-known providers of TV, broadband, home phone and mobile services in the UK. Their network of coaxial cables is the only major challenger to Openreach’s network, and by now passes almost 15 million UK homes.
Nearly six million broadband, TV and home phone customers subscribe to one of their series of cable packages. This places them in the top three providers in terms of subscribers. They also boast over three million customers in mobile, and over 45,000 businesses rely on Virgin for Business for their IT infrastructure.
Virgin Media traded independently until 2013, when it was bought out by Liberty Global Plc, which trades on both the London and New York stock exchanges. In London, the group’s share prices have fluctuated considerably in the last 18 months, dropping from a high of £36.70 in February of last year to a low of £23.02 by the end of 2018. Its value has been steadily on the up since, however, and currently trades at £26.81.
You can find all sorts of information about Virgin Media jobs in their careers portal. Apart from finding all the latest vacancies within the company - which at the time of writing include everything from customer support representatives to a national executive account manager - you can learn about their values and the benefits that ‘Virgin Media People’ enjoy. Among these benefits is having your birthday off every year and free TV Go to enjoy Virgin TV content even if you don’t live in a cabled area.
Virgin Media in the News
- 3-6-2019 - VM price cut as changes announced for TV and broadband customers: The Express reports that customers will save £100 on Virgin’s new broadband deals.
- 5-6-2019 - VM launch service promise in broadband rebrand: Choose reports that customers will be given unlimited 4G data in the event of their broadband service failing or experiencing problems.
We have heaps of information on Virgin Media products across a series of dedicated pages which you’ll find links to throughout, but here’s a basic rundown of what’s on offer:
Virgin Media bundles compile TV, fibre broadband (Virgin only offer fibre broadband) and home phone services to cover all your needs - be they basic or high maintenance - under one bill. Even their most basic package (the ‘Big Bundle’, currently on special offer) still comes with 108Mbps broadband, but go with any of the other three and you’ll get a free Xbox One S!
At the other end of the spectrum, they also offer a deal with seemingly everything you could ever want from Virgin included. Apart from comprehensive TV and calls packages, Oomph customers get exclusive access to Virgin’s new M500 (516 Mbps) fibre broadband and an unlimited mobile SIM included. As you will have guessed, though, the Ultimate Oomph bundle will not be the easiest on your wallet - this said, getting all these features elsewhere is unlikely to come in much cheaper.
|Big Bundle||Bigger Bundle||Bigger Bundle + Sports||Ultimate Oomph Bundle|
|Mixit TV (110+ channels) M100 Fibre Broadband Talk Weekends||Maxit TV (230+ channels) Virgin TV V6 Box M100 Fibre Broadband Talk Weekends Xbox One S||Maxit TV + Sky Sports & BT Sport HD Virgin TV V6 Box M100 Fibre broadband Talk Weekends Xbox One S||Maxit TV + all extras* Virgin TV V6 Box New M500 Fibre Broadband Talk More Anytime Truly Unlimited SIM** Xbox One S|
*Sky Sports HD, BT Sport HD, Sky Cinema HD, Kids Pick + extra V6 Box **Unlimited data, minutes & texts
Aside from these four, Virgin also allow you to build your own bundle using their ‘Big Bundle’ as a base. To this you can upgrade your TV package, your fibre speeds, SIM or calls package as you like. For more info on Virgin bundles, see our full guide to them on Virgin’s bundles page.
If what’s most important to you is setting up broadband for your home, Virgin have a range of options available to you. Their newest, fastest package - M500 Fibre Broadband - is available only to subscribers to the Ultimate Oomph Bundle, and those of us who don’t want or need such a suped-up deal can choose from one of the following four:
|Avg. download speed of 54 Mbps||Avg. download speed of 108 Mbps||Avg. download speed of 213 Mbps||Avg. download speed of 362 Mbps|
|Avg. upload speed of 3 Mbps||Avg. upload speed of 6 Mbps||Avg. upload speed of 12 Mbps||Avg. upload speed of 35 Mbps|
|For small households (1-4 devices)||For busier households (5-9 devices)||For busy households (10+ devices)||When only the fastest will do!|
When you compare these speeds with those of other major providers, the fact is it’s not much of a competition. As the image below shows, Virgin is streets ahead in terms of fastest average speeds. Even discounting the M500 package, M350 is still over five times quicker than its nearest competitor.
How you get your internet ticking at any of these speeds is up to you. If you don’t want a big bundle, you can just opt for a broadband and phone deal. If you don’t even want home phone, they’re also available as broadband only deals. If you don’t want to be tied down to a year-long deal, you can get a 30-day rolling contract and see how you like it.
The freedom to go as you like in this sense is great - how it affects pricing is another matter which we’ll discuss a bit later.
If it’s business broadband you’re interested in, note that these speeds and packages are entirely different! You’ll find details on Virgin for Business on our dedicated page.
Virgin Media TV
If getting Virgin broadband is as simple and flexible as you want it to be, getting a Virgin TV package is the other side of the coin. Virgin TV is only available through their bundles, meaning that if you want a TV deal you’re going to have to subscribe to one of their cable broadband and talk packages as well. You do have some flexibility in that you can build up a customised TV package using the ‘Big Bundle’ as a base. For full details on the channels and features available across each of their packages see Virgin’s packages page.
As we’ve said, one drawback to Virgin TV is that you can only get it for your home if you also commit to one of their main bundles. These come with broadband and calls packages included, and can be personalised more or less as you like but the base packages are priced as follows:
|Big Bundle||Bigger Bundle||Bigger Bundle + Sports||Ultimate Oomph Bundle|
|£38/m £59/m after 12 months £25 setup||£57/m £78/m after 12 months £25 setup||£72/m £103/m after 12 months £25 setup||£99/m £139/m after 12 months £25 setup|
Virgin Home Phone plans can come as part of a broadband package or a full bundle. The basic calls package, Talk Weekends, is included in all phone bundles. From this, which gives you free calls to UK landlines and Virgin Mobile numbers at weekends, you can upgrade to whichever package suits you:
- Talk Weekends: Weekend calls to UK landlines, Virgin Mobile numbers + 0870 numbers
- Talk More Weekends: Weekend calls to UK landlines, Virgin Mobile numbers, 0870 + 0845 numbers
- Talk More Evening & Weekends: Evening + weekend calls to UK landlines, UK mobiles, 0870 + 0845 numbers
- Talk More Anytime: Anytime calls to UK landlines, UK mobiles, 0870 + 0845 numbers.
- Talk More International Anytime: Anytime calls to UK landlines, UK mobiles, 0870 + 0845 numbers, & 50+ countries.
For more details on Virgin’s calls packages and the features you can get with them, you can check them out in their packages page. If you’re after phone deals for your business, see Virgin’s business services page.
If what you want is Virgin’s superfast cable broadband for the cheapest possible price, your best bet is to subscribe to one of their broadband and phone packages. These, despite the addition of a phone line and their base calls package (Talk Weekends), works out cheaper than a broadband only deal:
|Broadband & phone||£28 £44 after 12 months (£25 upfront)||£33 £49 after 12 months (£25 upfront)||£38 £54 after 12 months (£25 upfront)||£43 £59 after 12 months (£25 upfront)|
|Broadband & phone (30 day rolling)||£42 (£70 upfront)||£47 (£70 upfront)||£52 (£70 upfront)||£57 (£70 upfront)|
|Broadband only||£37 (£25 upfront)||£42 (£25 upfront)||£47 (£25 upfront)||£52 (£25 upfront)|
|Broadband only (30 day rolling)||£37 (£70 upfront)||£42 (£70 upfront)||£47 (£70 upfront)||£52 (£70 upfront)|
An important thing to consider before committing to a Virgin broadband and phone package is the considerable price rise that happens automatically after 12 months. It would seem that while they are keen to get you signed up, they’re not so worried about keeping you once the first year is up.
For more details on Virgin’s internet packages, see their broadband page.
Virgin’s calls packages, as we’ve mentioned, can be added as you like to any broadband package or a bigger bundle. You start with the free Talk Weekends package and can update from there - here’s how much you’re looking at for each deal:
- Talk Weekends: Free
- Talk More Weekends: £1 extra per month
- Talk More Evening Weekends: £5 extra per month
- Talk More Anytime: £8 extra per month
- Talk More International Anytime: £15 extra per month
If you’re looking for prices on Virgin for Business calls packages, you’ll find them all listed with more details and features on their business page.
How do Virgin’s price compare with the market average?
Giving a fair comparison of Virgin’s broadband prices is a tricky business, because their range of speeds is so different to those of their competitors. M50, Virgin’s slowest, cheapest package, is somewhere between most providers’ middle and fastest packages in terms of speed.
M350 and M500, their fastest packages, are so far ahead of the rest that a pure price comparison with other providers’ “superfast” packages would do no justice.
In an attempt at a fair comparison, we’ve lined up the price of a Virgin M50 Fibre Broadband & Calls package with the average price of a 35 Mbps broadband calls package from the other major providers:
To compare for faster speeds, let’s pit Virgin’s M100 Fibre Broadband and calls (their second slowest) against the average major provider’s fastest fibre broadband and calls package:
There’s no doubt that in terms of Mbps for your buck Virgin takes the cake, coming in cheaper in both categories while offering faster speeds. Not only this, if you’re willing to fork out more Virgin have considerably faster speeds available to you.
How to contact Virgin Media
If you’re already sold on Virgin, you can get through to their sales team on the number below. They’ll set you up with a deal:
Virgin Media Sales Contact Number
Please check with your provider if you don't know how much a call will cost.
0800 052 2525
Monday to Friday: 8am-8pm; Saturday: 8am-6pm; Sunday: closed
Support for existing customers
If you’re already with Virgin and you want to get hold of them the way that best suits you, see their contact page for the full range of ways you can get in touch with them and learn which will solve your issue quickest. If, however, you’d rather try and solve your issue on your own, you might want to try one of the following:
My Virgin Media app
You might be able to deal with things yourself through the My Virgin Media app. You can do things like check and pay your bills there - you can also flick through their Community page to see if your issue has been dealt with before on one of their forums.
If what you need is information on keeping your Virgin package or bundle when you move house, go direct to their moving page. There you’ll find all the info you’ll need and the steps you have to take to keep your deal going at your new place.
Virgin Media Reviews
We mentioned earlier that, according to Ofcom, Virgin Media is the only major provider with above-average customer satisfaction for broadband speeds. In this case, and given the speeds they guarantee their subscribers, you’d expect Virgin to receive shining reviews across the board. Not so, apparently.
A quick look at their rating on the review site Trustpilot tells an ugly story. 82% of reviewers gave Virgin Media the very worst score of ‘Bad’, and a further 8% gave them the second worst rating of ‘Poor’ - meaning 90% of customers report a negative experience. The result is a frankly shameful Trustpilot rating of 0.5/10. What is it, then, that customers hated so much? Repeated faults? Poor customer service? You can get the full rundown in their reviews page.
Pros and cons
- Fastest widely available speeds on the market.
- Price-speed ratio better than any other major provider.
- Flexible access to broadband and calls packages.
- Extremely poor customer reviews on Trustpilot.
- Limited ability to get a TV package without a bundle with broadband and calls.
- Significant price rises after first year of contract.