Virgin Media’s speed crown is under threat, and its customer service needs improving
- The fastest provider out there
- Sometimes over delivers on headline speeds
- Lowly customer service ratings
- Poor value for money on slower tariffs
- Trying to foist mobile SIMs on broadband customers
If there’s one thing Virgin Media’s broadband is renowned for, it’s speed. The company’s cable network has put it miles ahead of the pack when it comes to download speeds for many years, but with full-fibre competitors now more commonplace, that speed advantage is slowly being eroded.
That hasn’t stopped Virgin Media from clinging on to our Best Broadband Awards 2022 speed award once again this year. 32% of Virgin Media customers said they were very satisfied with the speeds they were receiving in our recent customer survey – conducted in partnership with YouGov– with a further 42% describing themselves as fairly satisfied.
The problem for Virgin – as has been the case in previous years – is the rest of the package. Only 11% of their customers described themselves as very satisfied with the company’s customer service, the worst score of the eight major providers in our survey by some distance. Value for money remains an even bigger sore point.
Virgin customers may have been prepared to put up with second-rate service and expensive tariffs while its speeds were untouchable; but with others now offering gigabit downloads and faster uploads, Virgin will need to up its game if it wants to stay among the award winners.
Compare the best Virgin Media broadband deals – LIVE!
Virgin Media Broadband review: M50, M125, M250, and M350 fibre broadband
One of the reasons so many customers seem satisfied with their Virgin Media speeds is they tend to overperform the headline speed. For example, Virgin claims the M500 package actually has an average download speed of 516Mbits/sec. Even that may be undercooking it. Ofcom measured the median average of that connection at a very impressive 541Mbits/sec.
There’s no real value in the bottom end of Virgin Media’s offering. £25/mth for a download speed of 54Mbits/sec is more expensive than rivals. Indeed, it’s also not far off the same price as Virgin charges for its fastest gigabit lines and they have a mobile SIM thrown in too (see below).
The pricing structure is all designed to nudge you towards the faster tariffs, where the prices will shoot up after the initial contract ends. However, if you don’t let your contract lapse and get on the phone to Virgin’s call centre when it’s coming to an end, there’s always a deal to be had, in our experience.
Stand your ground when it comes to getting a good router, too. Virgin Media’s latest Hub 5 has Wi-Fi 6, which should help you get strong speeds throughout the home. The older Hub 4 is based on the older Wi-Fi 5 standard. Make sure you get the new one and agree that at the point of ordering, or else you may just receive what’s in the installation engineer’s van.
Virgin Media Broadband review: Volt M500 and Gig1 Fibre broadband
Virgin seems keen to press home its recent merger with O2 by bundling mobile data SIMs in with its two fastest packages. Those O2 SIMs come with 10GB of data, which is probably enough for most people.
The sting in the tail with these very reasonably priced packages is what happens when the contract ends. Virgin states the post-contract prices for the M500 and Gig1 packages are currently £56 and £62 per month respectively, and that’s before any price rises that may be imposed in the intervening 18 months.
As we said above, it’s always worth a haggle with Virgin Media when a contract nears its end, but you will be very lucky to see the introductory prices frozen beyond 18 months.
Virgin Media Broadband review: Packages and prices
|M50||M125||M250||M350||Volt M500||Volt Gig1|
|Price per month (inc line rental)||£25||£26.50||£30||£36||£44.50||£40|
(Mbits per sec)
|Contract length||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months||18 months|
Virgin Media Broadband review: Coverage
It’s by no means a given that you can get Virgin Media, given that the company’s network only reaches around 56% of households, and most of those are in big towns and cities. Virgin has a target to reach 80% of the country by 2026, so keep an eye out for those vans rolling down your road.
The better news is that, unlike last year, Virgin Media now offers gigabit connections across its entire network, not just a proportion of it. If you’re on one of the slower Virgin tariffs, you might be able to negotiate a speed upgrade at contract renewal time.
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Virgin Media Broadband review: Performance and customer satisfaction
As mentioned above, few customers have any complaints about Virgin Media when it comes to speed. If anything, the company is underselling the performance of its packages, which makes a refreshing change in the broadband business.
However, that performance comes at a cost. Only 10% of Virgin Media customers are very satisfied with the value for money they’re receiving, and much of that might be down to the company’s customer service. Less than half of Virgin Media’s customers are happy with the customer service they’re receiving, and only 11% are very satisfied.
It’s not only our survey where Virgin gets a poor customer service reputation, either. In Ofcom’s league table of broadband complaints, you’ll find Virgin Media in the relegation zone, with 18 complaints per 100,000 customers making it the joint second worst, alongside TalkTalk.
With one of the worst reliability scores of the eight providers in our survey, things seem fine on Virgin Media, until something goes wrong.
Virgin Media review: Verdict
For out-and-out speed, it’s still hard to beat Virgin Media. It still has some of the fastest connections in the country and it delivers the speeds that it promises.
However, Virgin Media really has to buck its ideas up when it comes to customer service, where it consistently languishes at the bottom of the satisfaction tables.
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,664 adults, of which 981 are virgin media users. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17 and 19 January 2023 and the survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).