Virgin Media explained
By Dan Howdle | Wednesday, January 30th 2019
In this guide
- Can I get Virgin Media?
- Why choose Virgin Media?
- Downsides to choosing Virgin Media
- What does Virgin Media offer?
- Packages and bundles
- Frequently asked questions
Can I get Virgin Media in my area?
Virgin Media currently covers around 60% of UK properties, not all of which can get the top speeds on offer. You can find out what's available in your area by entering your postcode in our coverage checker above.
In many cases, installation requires a visit from an engineer, which incurs a modest fee. Having said that, Virgin Media now offers self-installation packs for addresses previously connected to its services. The pack comes with instructions, and there are video tutorials on the Virgin Media website.
Why choose Virgin Media?
Of all the broadband and TV providers in the UK, choosing Virgin Media is probably the easiest case to argue. It is, quite simply, at the top of its game in most respects. Let’s take a look,
- By far the fastest widely available broadband in the UK
- Virgin TV is the UK’s best non-satellite TV service
- 14-day money back guarantee
- You don’t need a phone line if you don’t want one
- Unlimited data if you join Virgin Mobile
- Excellent parental controls and online safety
- Award-winning customer service
By far the fastest widely available broadband in the UK
Consider that the so-called ‘slowest’ broadband offered by Virgin Media right now (averaging 54Mbps) is almost as quick as the fastest (averaging around 67Mbps) offered by any other provider and you get a clear snapshot of just how far ahead Virgin Media is when it comes to broadband. Virgin’s top speed (average 362Mbps) is more than five times quicker than anyone else’s.
Virgin Media broadband is also more reliable than the competition, and you’re more likely to get speeds meeting, or in many cases exceeding, those advertised.
Virgin TV is the UK’s best non-satellite TV service
When it comes to top-end subscription TV it’s a two-horse race: Virgin Media and Sky. Virgin TV has only one major downside compared to Sky – you can’t get Sky Atlantic on it. However, in most other respects Virgin TV either meets Sky head-on with a like-for-like service or offers advantages.
For example, Virgin TV’s V6 set-top box is superior to the free Sky Q box you’ll get from Sky, able to deliver 4K content and with a more capable recorder. You won’t need a satellite dish with Virgin TV either, and you can add BT Sport, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema just like you can on Sky.
14-day money back guarantee
This is a bit like try-before-you-buy. You can sign up to Virgin Media’s broadband and/or TV service safe in the knowledge that if you’re not happy with what you get you can simply cancel the service within the first 14 days with no penalty.
Virgin Media broadband-only: You don’t need a phone line
There are a lot of broadband providers offering a so-called ‘broadband-only’ service these days, but Virgin Media is the only one that truly doesn’t require a telephone line. On those ‘broadband-only’ deals from other providers you’ll still need a phone line, with the cost of line rental folded into the price. With Virgin Media broadband delivered through its own cable, you require no such thing.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that you shouldn’t expect to save the £15-£19 per month typically apportioned to ‘line rental’. Virgin Media will still charge you something close to the same amount whether you have a phone line or not, so you’ll need a better reason for not having one than simply to save money.
Unlimited data if you join Virgin Mobile
Strictly-speaking there are only two mobile providers in the UK offering unlimited 4G data plans: Three with its ‘all-you-can-eat’ and Virgin Mobile with unlimited data deals available exclusively to its broadband and TV customers. Right now unlimited 4G is a really big deal, so well worth taking advantage of if you’re getting Virgin TV or broadband.
Excellent parental controls and online safety
Pretty much all providers have to offer some form of parental control so families can cordon off the more adult corners of the internet from their young ones. Virgin Media is no different, though we would say it offers more than most in this area with a complete suite of tools including adult content filtering and security in the form of F-Secure virus protection.
Award-winning customer service
As well as a host of awards from all over the industry and from independent bodies, Virgin Media also managed to garner the fewest complaints of any provider in 2017, with 40 complaints per 100,000 customers compared to 87 complaints about BT, according to telecoms regulator Ofcom.
Downsides to choosing Virgin Media
- It’s not as widely available as broadband and TV from other providers
- Virgin Media’s cancellation fees can be somewhat draconian
It’s not as widely available as broadband and TV from other providers
Almost all providers in the UK are on the Openreach network – formerly owned by BT and bringing fibre to around 97% of UK homes, standard broadband to 100%. Virgin Media is the only widely available exception – it runs its own network. The upside is it can provide broadband that’s much faster than anyone else, the downside is it’s only available to around 60-65% of UK households, meaning there’s a strong chance you may not be able to get it.
You can use our postcode checker at the top of this page to be certain.
Virgin Media’s cancellation fees can be somewhat draconian
All we can say here is that so long as you’re sure you’re going to want Virgin Media for the prescribed contract period you’re not going to have to worry about this. If not, Virgin Media’s cancellation fee policy differs little from that of other providers, albeit for one key detail.
Currently if you move house and can’t get Virgin Media at your new address Virgin will make you pay out your contract regardless. Ofcom is currently looking into this situation but this is how things stand at the time of writing.
What does Virgin Media offer?
Virgin Media is what some refer to as a ‘quad-play’ provider. That is, it offers broadband, TV, home phone and mobile. Here are its services with brief descriptions.
Virgin Media broadband
Virgin Media offers the fastest widely available broadband in the UK by far, with its top speed coming in more than five times faster than its closest rival. Virgin Media broadband is also more reliable than that supplied by other providers with less downtime across its network than anyone else.
Virgin TV offers an enormous number of channels, has the best free set-top box out there (the Sky Q 2TB is better by a sliver, but it’ll cost you £200), and lets you bolt on Sky Sports, BT Sport, Sky Cinema and a host of other specialist channels and channel bundles. Also, you don’t need a satellite dish as it’s all delivered through the same cable as your broadband.
Virgin Media started life as Virgin Mobile, believe it or not. Now it’s a separate arm of the company offering pay monthly (with handset) and SIM-only deals on the EE network. You can get totally unlimited 4G data if you have a SIM or pay-monthly deal from Virgin Mobile while at the same time being a Virgin broadband and/or TV customer.
What packages and bundles does Virgin Media offer?
For the sake of simplicity, we’re applying the term ‘bundle’ to a combination of broadband, TV and home phone. In this category, Virgin Media has four offerings…
The Player Bundle
This is Virgin Media’s most basic bundle, but is nevertheless substantial. In it, you’ll get VIVID 100 broadband (with an average speed of 108Mbps)as standard, Talk Weekends (free weekend calls on your landline), and Player TV (Virgin TVs basic 70-channel package).
The Mix Bundle
Next up is the Mix Bundle. In it you’ll get VIVID 200 broadband (with an average speed of 213Mbps), Talk Weekends (free weekend calls on your landline), and Mix TV (over 150 channels including Sky One, Sky Living, FOX and MTV).
The Full House Bundle
In the Full House Bundle you kind of get everything. You get VIVID 200 broadband (with an average speed of 213Mbps), Full House TV (with over 230 channels and including BT Sport and almost all of Sky’s channels in HD), and Talk Weekends (free calls from your landline on weekends).
The V.VIP Bundle
If The Full House Bundle is pretty much everything, The V.VIP Bundle is ‘Everything+’. It’s more of everything. Broadband speed is now Virgin Media’s VIVID 500 (with average speeds of 516Mbps), inclusive calling is now Talk More Anytime – free calls, all of the time.
The TV package meanwhile is still Full House TV as described above, but in addition you get Sky Sports, Sky Cinema HD, BT Sport HD, Kids Pick and a whole extra Virgin V6 set-top box for a second screen in your house (multiroom). It ain’t cheap, but my goodness, you get a whole heck of a lot.
Frequently asked questions
How much is Virgin Media – is it expensive?
No. But it is a premium service as opposed to a budget one. There are various budget broadband providers (Origin, TalkTalk to some extent, Direct Save Telecom, others) and some budget TV providers (TalkTalk TV, NOW TV and so on). But ‘expensive’ is a relative term. Virgin Media charges moderately more than budget providers, but offers a premium service. On a cost per megabit (or per channel in terms of TV), it offers the best value in the country.
How long are Virgin Media contracts?
All Virgin Media contracts are for 12 months, after which you will have the opportunity to switch. Don’t forget you can back out in the first 14 days after your services are activated if you’re not happy.
Are there any set-up/activation fees?
Yes. There is a £20 set-up fee across all Virgin Media’s TV and/or broadband services. An engineer will need to come to your house to get you up and running and this is what you are paying for.
Can I get out of my contract if I’m not happy?
Yes, if it’s within the first 14 days of your service. Beyond that, you will have to receive consistently unfit-for-purpose services and give Virgin Media every opportunity to fix it. If it fails to address your problem, you have the right to leave free of charge. One quirk of Virgin Media is that you cannot leave your contract mid-term if you move house – even to somewhere where Virgin Media services aren’t available. If this sounds terrifically unfair that’s because it is. Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, is currently looking into this issue.
Can I get BT Sport on Virgin Media?
Yes. In fact if you get The Full House Bundle, V.VIP Bundle or Full House TV on its own you’ll get it thrown in for free. Otherwise you can simply add it on for a small monthly fee.
Can I watch Sky Sports on Virgin Media?
Yes. You can add it on to any bundle or TV-only deal, and it comes free with the VIP Bundle.
Can I watch Sky Cinema on Virgin Media?
Yes. As with Sky Sports you can add it on to any TV package or TV and broadband bundle, and it comes free with the VIP Bundle.
Can I watch Sky Atlantic on Virgin Media?
No. Sky Atlantic is currently only available on Sky services.
Does Virgin Media offer mobile broadband?
Yes. Provided you can get the mobile coverage, Virgin Media offers MiFi dongles and data plans.
Does Virgin Media offer free public wifi?
Yes, Virgin Media has around 12,000 mobile hotspots around the UK and an app to help you find them. It also offers mobile data on the London Underground.