Virgin Media Broadband

Virgin Media Broadband (2021) review: Big Black Friday discounts and great speeds, but not always great service

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
per month (54Mbits/sec)

Virgin has the fastest broadband services but falls behind on customer service and support

Excellent speed
Great range of packages
Good reliability
Below average scores for customer support
Too many Ofcom complaints

Since its launch in 2006, Virgin Media has grown to become one of the UK’s biggest ISPs; with 20% of the market, it’s now third behind BT and Sky. Much of this comes down to a mix of advanced technology and raw performance. Virgin is the only nationwide broadband provider to have its own network in place at a street level, meaning it can deploy its latest technology earlier and deliver levels of performance the Openreach-based competition can’t always match.

Get superfast broadband for just £25/mth this Black Friday

This Black Friday, Virgin has wiped £342 off each and every one of its 18-month broadband contracts. The best deal costs just £25/mth with an initial £35 setup fee, delivering average download speeds of 108Mbits/sec and an upload speed of 10Mbits/sec. An ideal plan for busy houses packed with devices.

Alas, Virgin Media isn’t available in many areas. If you’re outside a big town or major city, then it’s probably not an option for you. And even if it is, the service has its downsides. Looking at the results of our 2021 Best Broadband Awards survey, the ISP scores high for reliability and speed, where it comes away with a Highly Commended but falls behind the pack on Customer Support and Value for Money, where it has more Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied customers than most other ISPs.

If 71% of its customers still recommend Virgin Media, it may be because they’re lucky enough not to need any customer support, or because the awesome speeds they’re getting make up for the firm’s deficiencies elsewhere.

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Virgin Media review: Virgin M50, M100, M200 and M350

With Virgin, speed is very much the focus. The company doesn't even have an ADSL offering: its packages start with the M50 fibre service, with an advertised average speed of 54Mbits/sec, then step up to the M100, M200 and M350 services, with 108Mbits/sec, 213Mbits/sec and 362Mbits/sec average download speeds. Upload speeds range from 10Mbits/sec through to 36Mbits/sec and a £35 per month setup fee applies. Line rental and weekend calls come bundled in.

As with Sky Broadband, there is a sting in the tail to watch out for. The entry costs are quite competitive, with M50 at £28 a month, M100 at £34 a month, M200 at £40 per month and M350 at £46 per month. However, once you’re past the first eighteen months these rise to £45, £51, £57 and £63 respectively. When the new prices kick in, the plans aren’t such great value, so you’ll need to renegotiate or walk.

READ NEXT: Sky Broadband review

Virgin Media review: Virgin M500 and Gig1 Fibre

Beyond the base level package, Virgin also offers the 516Mbits/sec M500 service. This used to be restricted to Virgin’s Oomph packages, which bundled in phone, TV and broadband for a higher price, but now you can have it on its own on an 18-month contract for £62 a month, although we have seen it for less on special offer. Once again, Virgin ups the price once you’re past the first 18 months, but here it’s to £69 a month, which isn’t quite as appalling a hike.

While other ISPs stop there, Virgin continues, going all the way up to Gig1, available in a few lucky areas with average speeds of 1,104Mbits/sec for the same price as M500. That's over three times faster than EE's flagship 300Mbits/sec service, although BT now offers a rival 900Mbits/sec FTTP fibre option in some areas. If you want the fastest mainstream broadband option in the UK, then Virgin is the way to go, and while the contract lasts 18 months, the price is guaranteed for 24 months.

Price per month (inc line rental)£28£34£40£46£62£62
Upfront cost£35£35£35£35£35£35
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec516Mbits/sec1,140Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

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Virgin Media review: Coverage

Coverage is arguably Virgin’s biggest issue. Even if you want it, you might not be able to get it in many areas of the UK. At the moment, services reach around 45% of UK homes, and Virgin hopes to take that up to almost 53% in the near future but that still leaves a lot of households and offices outside the reach of a Virgin line. Meanwhile, the fastest services – particularly Gig1 – aren’t available in all Virgin Media areas. Use Virgin’s Postcode Checker to see which services Virgin Media can offer you.

READ NEXT: BT Broadband review

Virgin Media review: Performance and customer satisfaction

If you need more evidence that speed is Virgin Media’s thing, look at its results in Ofcom’s research and our own Best Broadband Awards survey. In the latter, nearly 61% of users we surveyed were Very Satisfied with Virgin’s speeds and a further 20% were Satisfied. Only Zen Internet had higher numbers of satisfied punters. However, nearly 13% of users were either Dissatisfied or Very Dissatisfied, so Virgin doesn’t always deliver the kind of performance that its customers hope for.

With so many high-speed options using varying technologies, it’s hard to do an apples-to-apples speed comparison between Virgin Media and rival ISPs. However, Ofcom registers an average speed across all of them of over 220Mbits/sec, which is ahead of the average speeds recorded for even BT’s faster FTTP fibre services.

On customer satisfaction and support, the news isn’t always quite so positive. Virgin Media’s scores for Customer Support in our survey were amongst the worst, with around 45% of satisfied customers and around 30% dissatisfied, with the rest sitting squarely in the middle.

Virgin also has only slightly more total satisfied customers (37%) than dissatisfied customers (35%) when it comes to value for money. Ofcom’s most recent report found that Virgin did well for overall satisfaction despite getting poor scores for complaint handling and logging long average call wait times. It’s 60 complaints per 100,000 users is well above average levels, despite the best efforts of Vodafone and TalkTalk to push that average up.

These figures now feed into the scorecards Ofcom issues annually in alliance with the regulators from the water, energy and banking sectors. These are designed to help customers choose the best providers based on metrics from the Institute of Customer Services and Net Promoter Scores. There’s nothing much to write home about on Net Promoter Scores or Overall Satisfaction, and Sky, EE and BT are all ahead with lower stats on the number of complaints.

Overall averageVirgin Media
Complaints to Ofcom per 1000 subscribers5260

Virgin Media review: Verdict

If you’re in an area where Virgin Media is an option, it’s always worth considering. Reliability is good and speeds are excellent, especially if you’re prepared to pay for a faster fibre broadband service. However, prices are relatively expensive and get more so after eighteen months, while Virgin really needs to work on its customer service and support if it wants to compete with the best ISPs out there. Speed is important but, to most people, it isn’t everything, and there are some areas where other providers give you more.

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