Virgin Media vs Sky
In this guide we’ll be comparing Virgin Media vs Sky by looking at their broadband, TV and phone services, their bundles and their coverage to help you to make the most informed decision of which of these UK providers is best for you.
Sky and Virgin Media are leading providers of broadband, TV and phone services. Each offers a great range of digital TV deals, broadband packages of every shape and size and telephone services that help you to keep in touch cheaper than ever before.
Sky vs Virgin Media
Sky and Virgin Media offer their products individually or as part of money-saving bundles and both offer very fast broadband Internet access with uncapped download options. We'll take a look at each provider in detail with easy to read comparison tables.
Provider Sky Virgin Media Broadband Up to 76Mb Up to 120Mb TV Channels Up to 427 Up to 225 HD Channels Up to 66 Up to 38 Home Phone Weekend
Evening & Weekend
Line Rental £14.50 £14.99 Prices From £7.50 per month £4 per month
Broadband - Sky vs Virgin Media
Virgin is one of the most established Internet service providers in the UK with a pedigree going back to the earliest days of home web access. Sky came to the party much later but still has a lot to offer to UK Internet users.
Compare Virgin & Sky
Provider Sky Virgin Media Download Speed Up to 76Mb Up to 120Mb Monthly Allowance Truly Unlimited Unlimited Fair Usage Policy No Yes Traffic Shaping No Yes Static IP No No Type Fibre Optic, LLU & ADSL Fibre Optic, LLU & ADSL Contract 12 Months 18 Months Prices From £7.50 per month £4 per month
All Virgin Media fibre optic broadband packages come with uncapped downloads as standard, and all customers get a free Virgin Media Super Hub wireless router. This is a combined broadband modem and wireless router which can support up to 20 wireless devices and up to 4 wired connections at any given time.
Depending upon the state of the Virgin fibre optic network in your area you will have up to three broadband speeds to choose from:
- Up to 30Mbps
- Up to 60Mbps
- Up to 100Mbps
Virgin Media broadband isn’t truly unlimited as there are peak time fair usage figures that govern each package. Any user going over this figure on any given day will have their download speed reduced for a 5 hour period. Virgin Media also employs traffic management at peak times to reduce the speed of what they describe as “non-time sensitive” activities.
A real plus in Virgin’s favour is their status as the only fixed-line broadband provider in the UK that doesn’t require you to have a landline if you don’t want one.
The majority of Sky’s broadband customers access one of two ADSL packages over their phone lines. The basic package, Sky Broadband Lite, is included free with TV and phone bundles, although it is somewhat letdown by the paltry 2GB monthly usage allowance.
A much more complete offering is Sky Broadband Unlimited, which is a truly unlimited home broadband package with no download limits, traffic management or fair usage policy. The speed of Sky’s ADSL packages are limited by your location and the quality of your phone line.
There are also two fibre optic broadband packages from Sky. Both of which include an unlimited monthly usage allowance and free wireless router.
All unlimited broadband packages also include free and unlimited access to Wi-Fi at public hotspots that belong to The Cloud network.
Winner – Virgin Media
It is with respect to broadband that these two providers run such a close race. Sky includes truly unlimited downloads and unlimited public Wi-Fi access, while Virgin offers no public Wi-Fi and does employ some download restrictions.
But Virgin’s fair usage figures are incredibly generous and unlikely to trouble anyone but the heaviest broadband users. Couple this with the advanced design of the free Super Hub, Virgin’s clear lead in terms of speed and the option to take broadband without a phone line and the cable provider comes out on top.Compare Virgin & Sky
Digital TV - Sky vs Virgin Media
The first thing that most people consider in the Virgin Media vs Sky debate is the amount of digital TV channels each provides. Both providers give you the full range of free-to-air or ‘Freeview’ channels.
There are currently around 50 Freeview channels broadcasting in the UK including the five terrestrial channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) and more than 40 other digital only Freeview channels including Dave, More4, E4 and ITV2.
The other channels you get when you sign up to one of these subscription TV services depends upon which provider you opt for and which of their packages you take.
Provider Sky Virgin Media Standard Channels 300+ 75+ HD Channels Up to 66 Up to 38 Digital Recorder Sky+ HD box TiVo box Features Record, Pause & Rewind Record, Pause & Rewind Apps Sky Go Virgin Media Player
Virgin Media TV
Virgin Media splits its TV offering across three packages, TV M+, TV L and TV XL. The cost increases in line with the number of channels included:
TV M+ is the basic Virgin Media TV package. It has 100+ Standard Definition channels including Sky 1, Sky LIVING and Sky News, plus 6 basic HD channels.
TV L has 135+ Standard Definition channels including Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky LIVING, MTV and SyFy, plus 8 basic HD channels.
TV XL is the most complete Virgin Media TV package. It features 200+ Standard Definition channels including Sky 1, Sky 2, MTV, SyFy, FX, National Geographic, Comedy Central and The Disney Channel, plus 30 HD channels including Sky 1 HD, Discovery HD and ESPN HD.
Premium channels such as Sky Sports can be added to any Virgin Media TV, or as part of some prebuilt bundles such as the VIP Collection. While you can get up to 30 free HD channels with Virgin Media cable TV you must pay an extra £7 if you want to access the HD equivalents of any Sky channels in your subscription.
The basic Classic Collection of TV, broadband and calls includes the exclusive TV M, which features just 57 basic channels.
Sky TV carries the greatest number of channels of any UK provider, with even the basic Value pack boasting 240 free-to-air channels and 40 subscription only channels - including Sky1, FX, MTV, Syfy and the exclusive Sky Atlantic.
For an extra £5 per month you can add the Entertainment Extra pack which brings your total selection of subscription-only channels to 92. The Entertainment Extra pack includes such favourite channels as MTV hits and Sky Sports News plus a large selection of kids, documentary and sports channels.
There are no inclusive HD channels with Sky. To access the HD equivalents of the channels in your subscription you need to pay an extra £10.25 a month for the HD pack.
Winner - Sky
No other provider, Virgin Media included, comes close to the sheer volume of digital TV channels that are available to Sky customers. And when you factor in that some of the most popular channels including Sky Atlantic and Sky Sports F1 HD are Sky exclusives there is really no competition.
Home phone - Sky vs Virgin Media
Land line usage has diminished over recent years as we communicate more and more with our mobiles or online via the likes of Facebook and Skype. There is still a place for the humble land line phone though and both Virgin Media and Sky offer some very good inclusive call options when you subscribe to their digital TV and broadband services.
Sky offers two different home phone packages under the Sky Talk brand. If you live in an area that is able to support the Sky Talk service then you have the choice of taking Sky Talk on its own or as part of a moneysaving bundle.
Sky Talk Weekends comes with free weekend calls to UK land lines, reduced rate calls to UK mobiles and international land line numbers and allows free calls at any time to the Sky customer service centre.
Sky Talk Unlimited brings unlimited inclusive calls all day every day to UK land lines and to land lines in any of 20 international territories. Subscribers can make unlimited calls to US and Canadian mobiles and to Sky customer service centres. They can also enjoy call rates to all UK mobiles at a rate 20% below Sky Talk Weekends.
Virgin Media offers three different land line packages to suit the needs of different subscribers. These packages have different perks and carry different monthly charges:
Virgin Media Phone M (Talk Weekends) gives subscribers unlimited weekend calls to UK land lines and Virgin mobiles. It is only available as part of a bundle and is included free of charge if you subscribe to Virgin Media TV and broadband.
Virgin Media Phone L (Talk Evening & Weekends) brings with it unlimited calls to UK land lines and Virgin mobiles all weekend and each evening. Phone L is available on its own or as part of a bundle.
Virgin Media Phone XL (Talk Unlimited) is a fantastic service that delivers unlimited free calls to UK land lines and Virgin mobiles all day every day. Phone XL is available on its own or as part of a bundle.
Winner – Sky
While you may not use your land line as much as you once did it still makes perfect sense to get the best possible land line deal you can. If you have family living away from home or even abroad then the inclusion of free calls with Sky Talk Unlimited makes this a one horse race.
Bundles - Sky vs Virgin Media
Most consumers opt to get their broadband, TV and phone services in bundles from their chosen provider. Bundles offer great value for money and come with the added convenience of paying for all charges on a single bill.
Both Sky and Virgin Media offer a wide range of broadband, TV and phone bundles with very fast broadband Internet access, dozens of TV channels and inclusive call options, all at a bargain price.
Coverage - Sky vs Virgin Media
The principal difference between Virgin Media and Sky is how they deliver their services to consumers. The technologies at the heart of the two services are very different and this affects their availability.
Sky is a satellite broadcaster and as such you must be able to erect a suitable Sky satellite dish on the exterior of your property if you want to subscribe to Sky’s TV service.
To benefit from Sky’s home phone services or to take advantage of Sky Everyday Lite broadband you’ll also need to live in an area with an exchange where Sky’s network is enabled. If you live in an area that is not covered by these services then the best Sky broadband you’ll be able to get is Sky broadband Connect.
Virgin Media Coverage
Virgin Media on the other hand is a cable operator. Virgin Media’s broadband, TV and phone services are all delivered into subscribers’ homes via an extensive network of fibre optic cables.
This means that you will only be able to get a broadband, TV and phone bundle from Virgin Media if your property is within an area that is connected to the Virgin Media cable network. At the moment Virgin Media claims to be able to provide its cable services to just over half of all homes and businesses in the country with this figure set to increase gradually as the Virgin Media fibre optic roll out continues.
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