By Dan Howdle | Thursday, November 7th 2019
Virgin Media's business broadband offerings are comprehensive to say the least. Not only offering the UK's fastest widely available broadband, Virgin Media Business has you covered on all fronts. Any business, any size, more speed than you probably need, and a raft of optional extras.
In fact, for many small businesses, Virgin Media Business broadband may well constitute overkill. But what's that saying? Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it? Let's take a look at the details.
Virgin Media Business offers essentially four different plans, each with an increasingly capable set of features. Then, beyond those four, it also offers bespoke leased-line setups for very large businesses which may incorporate a wide-area network (WAN) and offer speeds of up to 5Gbps (5,000Mbps).
For the purposes of this review – since we have no way to measure the capabilities of a bespoke corporate network consisting of multi-Gbps leased lines, we are going to stick to the basic four business broadband packages – those which are suited to small to medium-sized businesses. These are named VOOM FIBRE 1, VOOM FIBRE 2, VOOM FIBRE 3 and VOOM FIBRE 500.
The first three 'VOOM's offer Virgin Media Broadband's 350Mbps download speeds. As you move up through to VOOM FIBRE 3, you will see a steady increase in upload speeds, the number of static IP addresses thrown in (useful if you are running your own company server), and a reduction in the maximum number of hours you might have to wait for a fault resolution. The very top package, VOOM 500, offers 500Mbps download, 35Mbps upload, 5 static IPs and a mere 12 hours maximum wait for a fault resolution.
Virgin Media Business broadband, like other business broadband providers, doesn't conform to the Ofcom rule which dictates that broadband providers must display a real-world average speed, rather than the 'up-to' speeds of yore, since that rule applies only to home broadband. That's why you'll see Virgin Media Business and other business providers still advertising big round numbers rather than averages.
Having said that, it's not only likely you will receive the speeds stated by Virgin Media, it's likely you will exceed them. Virgin Media's residential broadband stated averages are higher than these round-numbered business packages.
Unlike Virgin Media's residential broadband plans, all business contracts are 24 months. This makes sense, since there is more work on Virgin Media's part both to set you up and to maintain your connection. You can also bolt on additional static IP addresses, pay a bit more per month to chop the contract length down to 12 months, and add an entire raft of business mobile SIMs and phones if you so desire.
If you're a small business owner and you just want a single line in, Virgin Media Business keeps things really simple: You have the option to add a phone line to any of the VOOM packages, on which you will have unlimited free UK calls (to other UK landlines). One of the advantages here, that you won't find with other small to medium business broadband providers, is you don't have to have a phone line at all, allowing plenty of alternative options from other providers should you so choose.
If, on the other hand, your needs are greater and/or more complex, Virgin Media Business has you covered there too. It offers everything from entire business phone lines and systems, business mobile plans, SIP trunking, cloud voice solutions, and hosted unified comms, even off-premises. If you haven't a clue what all that is, you probably don't need it, but it's good to know you can do pretty much anything you like with your business phone lines if you go with Virgin Media Business.
You won't find any ADSL (standard or non-fibre) broadband available with Virgin Media Business at all. It's all fibre, and the 'slowest' speed you can get is already five to six times faster than the speeds offered by other providers.
VOOM packages 1 to 3 all clock in at around 350Mbps. This is easily enough to keep an office with 30 workers, all doing aspects of their job online, perfectly happy. The VOOM 500 package can be considered for additional peace of mind, but the gain between 350Mbps and 500Mbps is unlikely to be noticed in all but a few very specific scenarios.
For some business types these speeds are going to constitute overkill. After all, if you're a florist or a plumber or a consultant working from home, that is more speed than you're going to need. That said, Virgin Media Business broadband is exceptionally reliable and there may be situations even still where all that speed saves you time. Downloading large files, for example.
Unlike Virgin Media's residential packages, the upload speeds offered by Virgin Media Business broadband ascend steadily the more upmarket the package you choose. On the VOOM FIBRE 1 package, upload speeds are a measly 7Mbps – a figure we would actually consider too low. Move up a step to VOOM 2 and you'll get a more reasonable 15Mbps, 20Mbps for VOOM 3. With VOOM 500 you'll get 35Mbps upload – more than enough for most situations.
However, some businesses do need to place a strong emphasis on upload speeds. Graphic design agencies, for examples, often share resources on a remote server, many of which can be very, very large files. Here, you're going to be better off with a bespoke solution with symmetrical upload and download speeds. Luckily, Virgin Media Business can help you there too, albeit at somewhat substantial cost.
Each order from Virgin Media Business is awarded an 'order manager' – a singular point of contact responsible for getting you set up and for dealing with any issues that might occur along the way. This differs greatly from a regular residential broadband deal, where you will always deal with that company's call centre as a whole.
They will initially take you through a series of questions that ensures Virgin Media Business knows what to expect on installation day. Also note that a way leave (formal permission documentation signed by the landlord) is required if you do not own the building in question. If the building was built before 2000, you'll also need to provide and asbestos register. A confirmation email will be sent you five days before installation.
Two days in advance, you will get final confirmation, and so long as the work goes as planned you will be up and running on the day of the engineer visit.
If you already have a Virgin Media residential broadband deal and your business broadband is going to replace it, the process will be no quicker as a result as different rules and parameters apply.
The router supplied with Virgin Business Broadband deals differs from the one Virgin Media supplies with its residential broadband packages. This is actually pretty rare. Most providers providing broadband for small or medium businesses like to keep things simple, supplying business customers with the same router as its residential customers, maybe with a different sticker on it.
The Hitron CGNV4-BIZ offers 4 Gigabit Ethernet, dual band wifi using the latest 802.11n/ac standard, and can support up to 13 static IP addresses – something Virgin Media's Superhub3 could never hope to achieve. There are still better routers out there if you're willing to spend the money, and for that the Hitron offers a modem mode, laying off wired and wifi networking to your preferred device. You're going to have to spend a lot to beat it, though.
According to Ofcom's most recent report on service quality there are no specific customer satisfaction scores for Virgin Media Business. However, Virgin Media always scores among the highest providers in terms of customer satisfaction, and its network, which it wholly owns and runs, is more reliable than other providers, most of whom operate on the Openreach network.
There can be no doubt that when it comes to business broadband for small to medium enterprises, Virgin Media Business is up there with the best. Perhaps, on reflection, taking into account speeds, reliability and flexibility, it is in fact, the best.
After all, without progressing your budget skyward to top-tier leased-line business solutions, no other provider comes close to Virgin Media Business for speed, quality of equipment, the availability of static IP addresses, or just plain out and out flexibility. Whatever you need, Virgin Media Business has you covered.
The closest competitor if probably BT Business broadband, and since Virgin Media Business is only available to around 60% of UK premises, it should probably be your second choice. But second choice it most definitely is.