Dan Howdle | January 5th, 2024
We've rated Virgin Media broadband 5 out of 5 stars for its fastest widely available speeds, reliability and no-phone-line option.
Unless you’re lucky enough to have a local alt-net digging a trench outside your door, you simply cannot beat Virgin Media broadband for speed. That makes it the best choice there is for gamers, very busy households and streaming enthusiasts.
Added to that, Virgin Media broadband can be bundled together with a collection of mostly excellent TV subscription services, you can choose whether you want a landline or not and if you want to go the whole hog you can even throw in your mobile deal with Virgin Mobile.
The only real drawback to Virgin Media’s offering is that not everyone can get it, however, Virgin Media broadband comes with our highest possible recommendation. And don't forget, it's constantly expanding its network, so if you can't get it yet, you may well find Virgin Media broadband is available on your street in the near future.
Here’s a quick look at what you can expect to find in a Virgin Media broadband deal.
|Virgin Media (cable)
|99.86% average uptime
|£28 per month
Virgin Media broadband is the top choice for those seeking unmatched speed, making it ideal for gamers, streaming enthusiasts, and busy households. Overall, Virgin Media broadband is highly recommended for those fortunate enough to have access to it and holds the potential for wider coverage in the near future.
Virgin Media provides the fastest widely available broadband in the UK. But a good broadband service doesn’t depend on speed alone, so is Virgin broadband any good?
Virgin Media is the market leader in the UK when it comes to broadband speeds, with average downloads of 1130Mbps from its range-topping Gig1 package. In fact, because it operates its own entirely independent network it's able to offer the most widely available gigabit-speed broadband in the country. Comparable speed broadband from the likes of BT (along with the other Openreach providers) has to be delivered using the Openreach FTTP network (that's 'Fibre-To-The-Premises' broadband, which does away with telephone lines entirely), and can't quite compete.
At present, only about one in four households can get full fibre via Openreach (BT, Sky etc.). Estimates differ, but it's probably still not much more than half of Virgin Media's coverage, although it is expanding rapidly. Check out our guide for more about ultrafast FTTP broadband. So Virgin really is very well positioned when it comes to offering higher speed broadband than competitors.
Being an option for around 55% to 60% of UK households (depending on whose figures you believe), Virgin Media Broadband is still not as widely available as services that operate on the old Openreach FTTC network (that's the previous generation 'Fibre-To-The-Cabinet' broadband, where copper telephone lines are still used to deliver the last leg to your home). So you may still find it’s not yet offered in your area. It’s also worth bearing in mind that should you move to a new area that's not covered by Virgin Media and have to cancel your service mid-contract, you might still be charged early termination fees – a harsh policy not shared by many of Virgin Media's competitors.
Speak to the experts at Virgin Media about switching. Call now on 0333 210 1126.Call Virgin Media
One additional (and crucial) detail – Virgin's top speed is now available to all of its customers, so if you're in one of their areas you can access every possible speed and every single package they have. No other national provider can currently make that claim. And recent years have seen them successfully trial speeds of up to 2.2Gbps, which will probably be offered to everyone in the near future. And they even have plans to bring 10Gbps 'symmetrical' broadband to market by the decade's end ('symmetrical' meaning uploads are as fast as downloads). However, from where we stand today in 2024, it's really hard to foresee what use those speeds would be to the average household. Frankly, it's bordering on science fiction.
It’s also reliable (perhaps one benefit of not sharing their network with anyone else). As recently as December 2020 they claimed a 99.88% reliability figure. And if you cast your mind back to that strange year, there a lot of stress on broadband networks as the world transitioned to working, playing and learning from home. We think that's pretty impressive.
With all that said though, whether it’s right for you will come down to whether you need or want all that amazing speed. And of course whether you can actually get it where you live. Also, don't forget Virgin Media is considered a premium brand, so it's not really available at the rock bottom prices you might see from other providers – although from time to time they do have some extremely tempting offers. If you're unsure about whether you really do need the higher speeds, check out our guide to what broadband speed you might need for your household.
We interviewed 6,000 household broadband decision makers. This is how Virgin Media broadband customers rated their service:
|Value for money
|Likeliness to recommend
Regardless of the recent expansion of the Openreach FTTP network, Virgin Media is still winning relative to the top speeds offered to most of the country by the likes of BT and Sky. And even Virgin Media’s slowest broadband, the M50 package (54Mbps) is faster than many ‘fast fibre’ FTTC deals from other UK providers – although M50 is now only available as one of Virgin's Essential Broadband packages. The Essential options are reserved for existing Virgin Media customers on low incomes or receiving certain benefits. Strictly speaking, there is now also a 15Mbps Essential option, but that would only really be suitable for those living alone and not having very demanding needs.
|M50 Fibre Broadband + Calls
|£28 per month
|M125 Fibre Broadband
|£29 per month
|M250 Fibre Broadband
|£33 per month
|M350 Fibre Broadband
|£37 per month
|M500 Fibre Broadband
|£33 per month
|Gig1 Fibre Broadband
|£39 per month
|Gig2 (coming soon)
|Up to symmetrical
|£84 per month
Any Virgin Media broadband deal of 125Mbps or so would adequately serve a household streaming movies, gaming, or doing some good old-fashioned surfing – in moderation. That said, if you're a really intensive-use household we'd definitely recommend you consider their higher speed packages. If cost isn't a huge issue, then it's better to have too much than too little.
A big selling point with Virgin Media is that you’re more likely to get the actual speed you’re paying for than with other providers. Ofcom’s 2022 figures (Ofcom’s reports are often more than a year behind) show that on average Virgin Media connections were just 1% slower than their stated maximum speeds, and that there'd been a notable reduction in network hitches and congestion since the previous year's report. While we can't really offer a detailed comparison here, that's definitely better than most people can expect to see from a more standard FTTC broadband connection.
Relative to its lightning-fast download speeds, Virgin’s upload speeds are somewhat slower. Unlike some alt-net providers, they've not achieved 'symmetry' quite yet. The average upload speed on Virgin Media’s M125 (with an average download speed of 132Mbps) is just 20Mbps, and 25Mbps on the M250 package. Expect uploads averaging 52Mbps from the M500 package, and double that with the range-topping Gig1. Still, all of those are faster than the download speeds many people have to put up with.
As a comparison, Plusnet’s entry-level FTTC fibre deal has upload speeds averaging at 9Mbps, while you can get 19Mbps upload speeds on its top-end fibre package, which comes with an average download speed of 66Mbps. Other providers operating on the Openreach network (that's almost everyone else), offer similar upload speeds. For those who can get them, providers using Openreach's newer FTTP full-fibre network enjoy the best upload speeds of all with TalkTalk's 500Mbps full fibre service delivering the highest median upload speed (73Mbps) in Ofcom's 2022 report.
Do upload speeds matter? With most tasks, not so much. Waiting for photos to upload or big emails to send can be pretty frustrating however, so it all comes down to what you do with your connection most of the time. But if you're a big live gamer, then you'll definitely be looking for the biggest numbers you can find. It's also very helpful for video calls and conferencing, so if you work from home it can be a big plus.
Each broadband provider in the UK tends to have its own way of drawing in new customers. In Virgin Media’s case, it's not usually the sort of cashback or voucher deals you often see with BT, Sky and TalkTalk. Instead, Virgin usually tempts new recruits with a bill credit, meaning your first few bills are waived or reduced. That's often the case for it's broadband only packages. They do occasionally offer limited-time 'flash-sales' where big savings can be made, so watch out for them too. If you're lucky they'll include a free gift too – full-size TVs aren't unheard of.
It’s a good idea, then, if you see a Virgin broadband deal you like, to go for it without hesitation. The price may not be the same if you wait. In particular, we'd recommend watching out for the periods where they waive their otherwise quite hefty £35 set-up charge. See our latest Virgin broadband deals for the best offers available today.
In Ofcom’s latest customer service satisfaction survey, Virgin Media customers reported average levels of overall satisfaction with their broadband service at 81%. Customers also reported higher than average levels of satisfaction for speed (82%) and roughly average levels of satisfaction with reliability.
In our opinion Virgin Media’s routers are pretty impressive. All broadband customers get the same router, the WiFi Hub 3, with the exception of Gig1 Fibre Broadband customers who will receive the WiFi Hub 5, which is being rolled out in some areas but not others at the time of writing. Customers wishing to upgrade to Gig1 will be issued with a new Hub 5 router free of charge.
Both the WiFiHub 3 and the WiFi Hub 5 give superfast wifi speeds that should stay fast across loads of devices. They also have a fantastic range, so they're ideal for larger homes or perhaps working out in the garden in fine weather. You can also stay safe online with the included security tech: Web Safe, F-Secure SAFE and parental controls. As a new customer, you'll be able to take advatage of a free, three month trial of their Virgin Media Internet Security services.
Read our full guide to Virgin Media routers.
Recently, Virgin Media have been waiving their usual £35 setup fee, but bear in mind that's not certain to remain the case. However, there's no such generosity when it comes to their no-contract 30-day broadband – and it has been known to be even higher.
If you’re switching from BT or another network that uses Openreach (again, that's pretty much all of the national providers) you’ll need to cease that connection and have Virgin Media install a line at your property – you can’t just switch it over.
Virgin’s QuickStart should be available if your home has been connected to the Virgin network in the past three years. With QuickStart you install your equipment yourself. Take a look at our guide for more information on switching broadband providers.
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