Emma Lunn | March 24th, 2023
Are you ditching Sky for Virgin Media or vice versa? Perhaps you’re tempted by Virgin Media’s super-speedy broadband, or you fancy Sky’s TV service.
Virgin Media and Sky use different networks. Virgin has its own cable network while Sky uses the Openreach network. But this doesn’t mean switching between the two providers has to be complicated. This guide explains how to switch between Sky and Virgin Media, from who to contact to how long it all takes.
Sky and Virgin Media both offer triple-play deals: phone line rental, broadband and a TV service bundled together for one monthly price. However, you might want a TV service from one provider, and phone and broadband from another. Or perhaps you want to do away with a paid-for TV service and rely on Freeview, and just buy broadband.
In either case, work out what you want to switch, what you want to keep, and what you can live without. Be careful when you compare deals. Both Sky and Virgin Media tend to lure you in with cheap prices that increase 18 months later.
Whichever way you’re switching, you’ll need to check whether your required services from Sky or Virgin Media are available in your area by choosing one of the options below.
If you have a Sky Broadband Superfast package with Sky and you can’t yet get Sky’s ultrafast speeds, you can get faster speeds with Virgin Media. Virgin offers speeds ranging from just 50Mbps to over 1000Mbps with its Gig1 package to all its customers.
If it’s really fast broadband you want, you’re more likely to be able to access Virgin’s network than Sky’s new ultrafast speeds. However, many people may just prefer Sky due to its TV packages. All Sky TV customers get Sky Entertainment and you can add on box sets, movies and sports, although pretty much the same is on offer with Virgin, with the exception of Sky Atlantic. Although Sky’s ultrafast speeds aren’t yet as widely available as Virgin Media, its regular top fibre speed of 63Mbps will be plenty for many households.
Whether you’re seeking a single service or a bundle, finding the best deal is easiest when all the information you need is in one place. Our broadband comparison pages take out a lot of the click-work, meaning you can compare features, costs and contracts simply and effectively.
Switching between Virgin Media and other providers is a bit trickier than switching between two providers that both use Openreach. This is because Virgin Media runs its own cable network, which uses different phone lines, cabinets and cables to the providers on Openreach. This means you will need to make a couple of phone calls yourself, rather than relying on your new provider (whether that’s Virgin or Sky) to arrange it all for you.
You’ll need to contact Sky to let it know you are leaving and to cancel your services – Virgin won’t do it for you. To avoid any loss of service, make sure you arrange to disconnect with Sky either on the same day or just after your Virgin Media connection starts.
You’ll need to arrange your Sky installation, then contact Virgin to cancel your services. To help avoid loss of service, it’s best to tell Virgin your confirmed Sky activation date so it can cancel its service as close to your new Sky activation date as possible.
If you’re still within the minimum period of your contract with either Sky or Virgin Media, you may have to pay termination fees. This won’t apply if your minimum term has already passed, and you should be able to cancel without any trouble.
Sky will credit your account with up to £100 if Virgin charges you termination fees. You’ll have to pay the fees first and will then need to send a copy of your final Virgin Media bill along with your proof of payment to Sky in order to claim your £100 credit.
Both Sky and Virgin Media will be reluctant to let you go. If you call to cancel, they are likely to transfer you to their retentions department where you may be offered cheaper deals and other incentives to stay. These offers may be worth considering before you make your final decision to switch.
Switching between Sky and Virgin Media isn’t quite as straightforward as switching between two providers that both use the Openreach network (that’s most providers apart from Virgin Media). But it needn’t be a major hassle if you plan ahead, do your research and are sure of your decision.
In most cases you’ll need to pay set-up fees when switching between Sky and Virgin Media. These might include installation of a new phone line, although when switching to Sky, there may be an inactive BT phone line at your property that Sky can reactivate. SKy will be able to tell you when you sign up whether you will be charged or not.
Both Sky and Virgin Media normally charge activation fees for broadband or TV. However, there are often special offers where some set-up fees are waived.
If you are switching from Sky, your cancellation period depends on the service. For example, a minimum 31 days’ notice is required to cancel Sky TV and a minimum 14 days for Sky Talk and Broadband. Whether you need to return Sky equipment depends on which kit you have. Sky Q equipment remains the property of Sky and will need to be returned, but this doesn’t apply to previous Sky boxes. The Sky Glass TV you can keep, but you will no longer be able to access the Sky features. If you have any Sky pucks, however, these will have to be returned.
If you are switching from Virgin Media, you have to give 30 days' notice for all services. When you sign up to Virgin Media, all the kit you receive is included as part of the service and you will be asked to return the router or TV box when you leave.
If you need Sky to install a new line, your switching lead time will depend on when this can be done. It’s normally a couple of weeks. If you have an inactive BT-compatible line which can be activated, it should be quicker.
When you switch to Virgin Media it will show you some potential installation dates before you place your order. If your home has been connected to Virgin’s network previously, you may be eligible to self-install with its QuickStart pack (within 4 days). If not, then appointments should be available within 14 days.
Leaving Sky doesn’t mean abandoning the great Sky content you’ve come to love. The majority of Sky TV channels are available through Virgin Media TV, including Sky Max and Sky Showcase. Unfortunately, one of the most popular Sky channels, Sky Atlantic, is still not available to Virgin Media customers.
If you have a Sky email address, you can still use it when you leave Sky but you’ll need to log in regularly to stop it being closed down. Your Virgin Media mail will remain active for 90 days after you cancel, after which time the address will be discontinued and you’ll no longer be able to access your inbox.
It’s probably best to set up a web-based email address, such as Gmail or Outlook that aren’t linked to any particular broadband provider, so you can use it whoever you choose for your broadband service.
You should be able to keep your phone number when switching between Sky and Virgin Media. You’ll need to speak to your new provider and arrange for your number to be ported over from your old provider.