By Dan Howdle | Tuesday, February 11th 2020
Virgin Media provides, hands-down, the fastest widely available broadband in the UK. It simply cannot be beaten on speed, and as time marches on into 2020, its lead is only getting larger. But a good broadband service doesn't depend on speed alone. There are other factors. On balance then, is Virgin broadband any good?
|Download speeds||54Mbps, 108Mbps, 213Mbps, 362Mbps, 516Mbps|
|Upload speeds||3Mbps, 6Mbps, 12Mbps, 21Mbps|
|Prices from||£28 per month|
Virgin Media is all about speed. It’s miles ahead of the top speeds offered by the likes of BT and Sky with its top Ultimate Oomph Bundle (which includes TV) offering average speeds of an awesome 516Mbps. Virgin Media offers the top speeds in the UK, and no one’s arguing. It is miles ahead of the competition. Even Virgin Media's slowest broadband (54Mbps) is faster than many 'fast fibre' deals from other UK providers.
Other Virgin Media broadband deals offer average speeds of 108Mbps, 213Mbps and 362Mbps. Any of these packages 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 2018 figures (Ofcom's reports are often more than a year behind) show that those taking out basic broadband deals (previously shown as up to 17Mbps) average, in fact, only 8.4Mbps at peak times. Virgin Media's 54Mbps customers do indeed get an average of 54Mbps.
The average upload speed on Virgin Media's 54Mbps deal is 3.04Mbps (advertised as 3Mbps), and 5.99Mbps (advertised as 6Mbps) on the 108Mbps package. Even on the 362Mb package you’ll only get upload speeds averaging 20.6Mbps (advertised as 21Mbps). There is very little in it between what is advertised and what is ultimately received. You cannot say that of most other providers.
As a comparison, Plusnet’s entry-level fibre deal has upload speeds averaging at 9.5Mbps, while you can get 19Mbps upload speeds on its top-end fibre package. Other providers operating on the Openreach network (everyone else), offer similar upload speeds.
Do upload speeds matter? With most tasks, no. Hanging around 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. Below is a sample of the Virgin broadband deals currently on offer.
In our opinion Virgin Media’s router is pretty impressive. All broadband customers get the same router: the Hub 3.0. Some other providers, such as BT, on the other hand, offer a lower-end router for their entry-level bundles, meaning if you want to upgrade or downgrade, you might need a different bit of kit.
The Hub 3.0 gives superfast wi-fi speeds that stay fast across loads of devices. It also has fantastic range, so ideal for larger homes. You can also stay safe online with the included security tech: Web Safe, F-Secure SAFE™ and parental controls.
You’ll need to pay a fee to get your Virgin Media broadband set up and, as we mentioned before, 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.
In Ofcom’s latest customer service satisfaction survey, Virgin Media customers reported average levels of overall satisfaction with their broadband service at 85%. Customers also reported higher than average levels of satisfaction for speed (85%) and roughly average levels of satisfaction with reliability.
However, Virgin Media had the second-highest proportion of broadband customers with a reason to complain in 2018 at 15% (the worst was TalkTalk) at 17%.
Virgin Media is the leader in the UK when it comes to broadband speeds. BT is working on delivering its Ultrafast fibre connections with speeds up to 314Mb – but when this will be widely available, we don’t know – at the start of 2020 it's still looking a long way off till widely available.
Virgin's broadband is not only fast, it's also the most reliable. Basically, then, it's the best broadband money can buy. 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.