Dan Howdle | May 4th, 2022
Virgin Media provides the fastest widely available broadband in the UK. But a good broadband service doesn’t depend on speed alone.
We interviewed 6,000 household broadband decision makers. This is how Virgin Media broadband customers rated their service:
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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 download speeds of 1130Mbps on its top package. In fact, this makes it the fastest widely available broadband provider in the country. BT now offers ultrafast full fibre connections with speeds up to 900Mbps to UK households, but currently only a small percentage of UK residents can receive this. (Check out our guide for more about ultrafast broadband.) However, Virgin's top speed is now available to all of its customers – so it really is the leader.
Virgin’s broadband is not only fast, it’s also reliable. But whether it’s right for you will come down to whether you need or want all that speed, and of course whether or not you can get it where you live. Our guide can help you to work out what internet speed you might need for your household.
Being an option for around 55% of UK households, Virgin Media is still not as widely available as services that operate on the Openreach network, such as BT, so you may 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 is not covered by Virgin and have to cancel your service mid contract, you may still be charged early termination fees.
Virgin Media is miles ahead of the top speeds offered by the likes of BT and Sky. Its top-tier Ultimate Volt Bundle (which includes TV) offers average speeds of an awesome 1130Mbps with its Gig1 Fibre Broadband service. Even Virgin Media’s slowest broadband deal (54Mbps) is faster than many ‘fast fibre’ deals from other UK providers.
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Any Virgin Media broadband deal of 100Mbps or more would adequately serve a busy household streaming multiple movies, gaming, doing some good old-fashioned surfing, and still have plenty left over.
A big selling point with Virgin Media is that you’re more likely to get the speed you’re paying for than with other providers. Ofcom’s 2021 figures (Ofcom’s reports are often more than a year behind) show that while there was some slowdown in connectivity during peak periods, on average connections were just 2% slower than their maximum speeds; 516Mbps cable services delivered 86% of maximum speeds in peak periods, compared to over 99% for 67Mbps full-fibre services.
Relative to its lightning-fast download speeds, Virgin’s upload speeds are pretty slow. The average upload speed on Virgin Media’s M50 (with an average download speed of 54Mbps) is just 5Mbps, and 10Mbps on the M100 package. Even on the M500 package you’ll only get upload speeds averaging 36Mbps.
As a comparison, Plusnet’s entry-level fibre deal has upload speeds averaging at 9Mbps, while you can get 18Mbps upload speeds on its top-end fibre package, which comes with an average download speed of 66Mbps. Other providers operating on the Openreach network (everyone else), offer similar upload speeds.
Do upload speeds matter? With most tasks, no. 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.
Each broadband provider in the UK tends to have its own way of drawing in new customers. In Virgin Media’s case, it tends not to offer the sort of cashback, voucher and free gift-type deals you often see with BT, Sky and TalkTalk. Instead, it puts its packages on at ‘sale’ prices for much of the year.
It’s a good idea, then, if you see a Virgin broadband deal you like, to go for it without hesitation, as the price may not be the same if you wait. In particular, we'd recommend watching out for the brief periods where they waive their otherwise quite hefty £35 set-up charge. Usually, it's something they just run for a few days, but it's well worth watching out for. See our latest Virgin broadband deals for the best offers.
In Ofcom’s latest customer service satisfaction survey, Virgin Media customers reported average levels of overall satisfaction with their broadband service at 80%. Customers also reported higher than average levels of satisfaction for speed (82%) and roughly average levels of satisfaction with reliability.
However, the report notes that “Virgin Media customers had to wait the longest for their calls to be answered (7 minutes 40 seconds on average), well above the average wait time of 4 minutes 9 seconds. Virgin were also less likely to be satisfied than average with how their complaints were handled”.
In our opinion Virgin Media’s routers are pretty impressive. All broadband customers get the same router, the Hub 3, with the exception of Gig1 Fibre Broadband customers who will receive the Hub 4. Customers wishing to upgrade to Gig1 will be issued with a new Hub 4 router free of charge.
Both the Hub 3 and the Hub 4 give superfast Wi-Fi speeds that stay fast across loads of devices. They also have a fantastic range, so are ideal for larger homes. You can also stay safe online with the included security tech: Web Safe, F-Secure SAFE and parental controls.
Read our full guide to Virgin Media routers.
Unless there’s a promotional offer on for waived setup costs, you’ll need to pay a fee to get your Virgin Media broadband set up and you’ll pay a higher fee on 30-day broadband deals than if you commit for a year.
If you’re switching from BT or another network that uses Openreach (pretty much all of them) 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.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be able to get Hyperoptic or first in the queue for the rollout of ultrafast broadband from another provider such as BT you simply cannot beat Virgin Media 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 with a collection of mostly excellent TV subscription bundles, you can choose whether you want a landline or not and if you want to go the whole hog you can even bundle in your mobile deal with Virgin Mobile.
The only real drawback to Virgin Media’s offering is that not everyone can get it. A lot of people rightly will be disappointed that Virgin Media is not yet serving their area. However, for the rest of us, Virgin Media Broadband comes with our highest possible recommendation. And don't forget, they're constantly expanding the network, so if you can't get it yet, you may well find Virgin Media broadband available on your street in the near future.
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