Virgin Media is a giant in the broadband and TV world. It has a reputation for fast speeds, innovative cable technology and some adverts starring Usain Bolt. But can it compete with some of the newest breakthroughs in broadband infrastructure, as well as an increasing number of low-cost challengers? There are also the other big names in broadband – like Sky and BT – battling for customers. Our independent review looks at the key features, the pros and cons of choosing Virgin Media Broadband as well as how it compares to other broadband providers.
We recommend that you read the review in full however you can jump to specific sections of the review using the following links:
- Virgin Media broadband key features
- Virgin Media broadband packages
- How much does Virgin Media broadband cost?
- Virgin Media broadband extras
- Does Virgin Media offer social broadband?
- Does Virgin Media have a good router?
- Do I need a phone line with Virgin Media broadband?
- Virgin Media broadband customer reviews
- Virgin Media broadband pros and cons
- How does Virgin Media broadband compare with other providers?
- How to compare Virgin Media broadband
- Is Virgin Media broadband any good?
Virgin Media broadband key features
Virgin broadband offers a superfast service that is available to around 55% of UK households. Speeds begin at 50Mbps – a much higher entry level compared to BT or Sky – and broadband deals are available as part of bundles including TV and mobile. Here are some of the key features of Virgin Media broadband packages.
|Package||Download speed||Minimum contract length||TV package available||Phone line required||Setup cost||Standard price per month|
*Virgin Media also offers a 30 day rolling contract for its M50, M100, M200 and M350 services, though these deals come with an installation and contract fee of £80.
Virgin Media broadband packages
Virgin broadband is currently available in six main packages. Here we break down each one to help you work out what would best suit your household. If you are unsure whether Virgin Media’s cable broadband is for you, read our article on 'Which broadband is best?'.
Virgin Media M50
Download speed: 54Mbps
According to Ofcom the average UK broadband speed was 50.2Mbps in 2021, so the M50 package should offer a fast enough download speed for most households. This will be especially true for small households with one or two users. You can read our article 'What broadband speed do I need?' if you are unsure how fast a broadband connection your household needs.
Make sure you shop around before you opt for the M50 package, as Virgin Media regularly discounts its faster M100 deal.
Virgin Media M100
Download speed: 108Mbps
The M100 will be a good fit for busy households with high usage. 108Mbps is more than double the average UK speed, so should be more than enough for average users streaming TV and films, sending emails and making video calls. This broadband speed will also support higher users streaming from multiple devices at once, watching TV in 4K and downloading large files.
This is sometimes Virgin Media’s cheapest broadband package, so keep an eye out for discounts and offers.
Virgin Media M200
Download speed: 213Mbps
The M200 is comparable to full fibre services from Virgin Media’s rivals. It can support high levels of downloads and streaming, so could be a good option for serious gamers or a household of multiple home workers.
Virgin Media M350
Download speed: 362Mbps
For around 10% more on your monthly bill, the M350 can offer an extra 149Mbps compared to the M200. This may be appealing for anyone looking to maximise the feeling of getting value for your money, but it is important to try and only pay for the download speed you need.
The M350 can support multiple devices across your home, so could be a good option if you have a lot of smart devices connected to your Wi-Fi.
Virgin Media M500
Download speed: 516Mbps
The M500 will give you significantly faster download speeds compared to the M350, but the same upload speed. This could be a problem for users who rely on uploading large files.
If everything in your home – dishwasher, thermostat, watch, doorbell, fridge, cat – is connected to the internet, you may be looking at the M500. It should be able to support this kind of extensive continuous usage without slowing down additional streaming or downloading.
Virgin Media Gig1
Download speed: 1,130Mbps
This is the fastest package Virgin broadband offers and will let you watch multiple 4K streams at once, download huge files quickly and video call your friends at the same time.
Very few households are likely to need this level of download speed, especially as the upload speed is a comparatively disappointing 52Mbps. However, for the households that do get this package and are able to reach the top speed, they will be getting one of the fastest internet connections available in the UK.
How much does Virgin Media broadband cost?
Virgin Media broadband is expensive, but there are deals to be had. Some 18-month deals offer an almost 50% discount, plus an Amazon voucher. This means you can get some very fast speeds at a price you might normally expect to pay for a standard fibre package.
For example, at the time of writing Virgin Media’s M100 and Sky’s Superfast Broadband are both available for £26 a month. The Sky deal advertises average speeds of up to 59Mbps, but Virgin offers 108Mbps.
However, these are limited time deals. Without the discounts, Virgin Media can be a pricey option.
In some cases, adding a phone line can make Virgin Media broadband deals cheaper. It may seem odd, but at the time of writing, some Virgin services are cheaper with phone calls added to the package than without. For example, M100 Fibre Broadband is £44 a month, but the M100 Fibre Broadband & Talk Weekends package is £26 a month for 18 months. So keep an eye out for packages that can make your deal cheaper, even if you don’t need the extras.
Bundling your entertainment services could help make an expensive broadband service better value. If you already have a TV subscription with a different provider like Sky or NOW, check if adding entertainment to your Virgin Broadband instead might help lower your overall monthly costs.
|Product name||Speed||Minimum contract length||Setup cost||Standard price|
Virgin Media broadband extras
A Virgin Media broadband deal can seem like much better value for money if you are able to bundle together services you already use into one monthly package. For example, if you already have Sky Sports or BT Sport, Virgin Media’s ‘Bigger bundle + Sports’ offers its M500 service, BT Sport and Sky Sports for £65 a month for 18 months. This also includes a calls package. The M500 deal without TV is currently priced at £38 a month for 18 months, so it is an extra £27 for sports channels that would be much more expensive if bought separately. The downside is that the bundles are not flexible, so you may have to pay for content you don’t watch in order to get the channels you want.
You can also get special offers if you already have an O2 mobile phone deal, or you can add an O2 sim to your Virgin Media package. This bundling does not offer the same value as sports, because there are so many cheap sim deals on the market, whereas sports packages are limited to a few providers. Therefore, it may be cheaper to buy a sim card from a different provider separately.
If you are a student, you may be able to access special discounts from Virgin Media. At the time of writing, students can get £17-£20 off the standard price on 12 month contracts – which are otherwise not available with Virgin Media – plus a £35 setup fee. Customers will need an email address ending in ‘ac.uk’ to access these deals.
Does Virgin Media offer social broadband?
Yes. Customers on universal credit can access a discounted Virgin Media deal. The package is much slower than any other Virgin service, at only 15Mbps.
This does not compare well with BT’s social tariff – 67Mbps on a 12 month contract for the same price – but Virgin do offer a rolling 30-day contract and no installation fee. The BT deal has a £15.99 installation fee.
Does Virgin Media have a good router?
Virgin Media broadband packages come with its Hub 3 router as standard, except for Gig1 customers who will receive a Hub 4 router.
The Hub 3 is a decent router, scoring 74% with Which? thanks to its coverage, useful app and parental control settings. However, its speeds were not the best when tested by Which? and the configuration was noticeably tricky to set up. Its score puts it below competitors BT, Sky, Vodafone and EE.
The Hub 4 is an upgrade on the Hub 3 and has all of the same features. It should help those customers with larger homes make sure their Wi-Fi reaches every room of the house.
Do I need a phone line with Virgin Media broadband?
Virgin Media uses cable broadband to connect customers to the internet. This means that it bypasses the phone line in your home with its own cabling network, so you won’t need a phone line to be connected.
Read our article on ‘Which broadband is best?’ to find out more about the different types of home broadband connection.
We also have an article on ‘Do you need a landline for broadband?’ to answer all your phone line questions.
Virgin Media broadband customer reviews
Virgin Media scores a seemingly low 2.0 out of 5.0 on Trustpilot, though this is actually ahead of its closest competitors. Sky scores 1.5 out of 5.0 and BT scores 1.6 out of 5.0, which suggests most of the site’s broadband reviews are negative.
The positive reviews for Virgin Media mention good customer service and fast speeds, while the negative reviews focus on poor customer service, unexpected bills and unreliable coverage.
Virgin Media came last out of 14 in a Which? survey of broadband providers. It scored only two out of five stars for technical support and ease of contact.
Ofcom research provides some better reading for Virgin Media. In a recent report, 85% of Virgin broadband customers surveyed found its overall service satisfactory. However, while this was higher than TalkTalk, Virgin’s overall score was below its main rivals Sky and BT.
Virgin Media broadband pros and cons
Virgin Media broadband pros
- Offers the fastest speeds on the market
- Option of 30-day rolling contract
- More coverage than full fibre
- Ability to bundle broadband, TV, home phone and mobile
- No need for a phone line
- Access to Virgin Media Wi-Fi hotspots
- Deals and discounts of up to 50% often available
- Special deals for students
- Discounted deal for customers on universal credit
Virgin Media broadband cons
- Standard prices are poor value for money compared to rivals
- Not as widely available as Sky, BT and other competitors
- Low Which? score for technical support
- Relatively poor upload speeds compared to download speeds
- TV packages are fixed bundles
- High installation fees for 30-day customers
- Long minimum contract required for free installation
- High cancellation fee
How does Virgin Media broadband compare with other providers?
|Virgin Media package||Virgin Media price||Competitor package offering same speed||Competitor price|
|M50||£38||Sky Superfast Broadband||£26|
|M100||£44||BT Fibre 100||£35.99|
|M200||£50||Vodafone Pro Ultrafast 200||£38|
|M350||£56||Onestream Supreme 550||£37.50|
|M500||£62||Plusnet Full Fibre 500||£38.99|
*There are currently no packages available that match Virgin’s Gig1 deal for speed.
Virgin is unlikely to be the cheapest option for broadband in your area, but unless you also have full fibre or mobile broadband available, it will be the fastest. The prices in this table are Virgin Media’s standard pricing, but there are often very good deals to be had, sometimes discounting these prices by almost 50%. If you can get a good deal, Virgin Media can be very competitive on price, while consistently outperforming rivals on download speed.
How to compare Virgin Media broadband
One of the best ways to compare broadband packages is via a comparison site such as Uswitch*. Comparison sites allow you to compare the best deals from a number of broadband providers at once. We have partnered with Uswitch* in order to help source the best broadband deals for our readers, simply click on the link and enter your postcode to get started. Results can be tailored based on your personal preference, meaning you can filter results based on factors such as price, speed, reliability, Wi-Fi coverage and customer service. According to the latest data, customers that chose a broadband package via Uswitch saved an average of £162 per year.
Is Virgin Media broadband any good?
Virgin Media is still the speed king of the broadband industry, but its customer service record will be a worry for some people. While the standard pricing is high, some great deals mean many customers will be able to get the highest speeds around for a price that would usually buy a package half as fast.
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