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Virgin Media Broadband

Virgin Media broadband review 2022: Awesome speeds, not so awesome service

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
25
per month

The only major ISP to break the 1Gbit/sec barrier, but service and support needs to improve

Pros 
Good reliability
High-spec hardware
Impressive choice of high-speed services
Cons 
Limited availability
Poor customer service scores
Below average ratings for value for money
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Virgin Media is the reigning speed king of UK broadband providers. It offers a full range of fibre options stretching all the way from 50Mbits/sec average download speeds to 1130Mbits/sec, putting it ahead of even the fastest services from BT, EE, TalkTalk and Vodafone. And that’s reflected in the results of this year’s Expert Reviews Best Broadband Awards, where Virgin clinched the Speed award by a considerable margin. Virgin Media is the only nationwide broadband provider to have its own street-level network in place, meaning it can deploy its latest technology earlier and deliver levels of performance the Openreach-based competition can’t currently match.

If speed is your key priority, Virgin Media should be on your shortlist. However, two things might put you off. Firstly, it’s not available in many areas, so if you live outside a major town and city you could be out of reach. Secondly, customer service and support doesn’t seem to be quite what it should be. Our awards survey research shows relatively low levels of satisfaction with customer service and value for money, and just 55% of Virgin Media customers say they would be likely to recommend it to a friend; one of the lowest figures for any major ISP.

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

With Virgin, speed is very much the focus. Where other providers kick off with an entry-level 36Mbit/sec service, Virgin starts with its M50 fibre service, with an advertised average speed of 54Mbits/sec, though a slow-ish upload speed of just 5Mbits/sec. Curiously, this is currently more expensive than the step-up M100, M200 and M350 services, with 108Mbits/sec, 213Mbits/sec and 362Mbits/sec average download speeds, and upload speeds of 10 to 36Mbits/sec. Across all of these, a £35 per month setup fee applies and these are Broadband only deals with no line rental bundled in. If you want free weekend calls and a landline, it’s roughly £9 extra per month, depending on the package.

As with Sky Broadband, there is a sting in the tail to watch out for. The entry costs are quite competitive, but once you’re past the first eighteen months you face price rises, taking M100 to £44 a month, M200 to £50 and M350 to £56. You’ll either have to lump the higher prices, renegotiate or walk.

All Virgin’s fibre packages come with its Wi-Fi Hub 4 or Hub 5 routers – the ISP is steadily transitioning to the latter, but serving existing customers first. The Hub 4 was already one of the better ISP routers, with Wi-Fi 5, smart channel selection, eleven antennae and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. However, the Hub 5 betters it by being the first ISP router to support Wi-Fi 6, so it’s worth getting if available.

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 for a very reasonable £43 a month. Once again, Virgin ups the price once you’re past the first 18 months to £62 a month.

While other ISPs are now offering 900Mbit/sec FTTP services, Virgin still goes one better with Gig1, delivering average speeds of 1,104Mbits/sec for £62 a month. This is the fastest mainstream broadband option in the UK at the time of writing, and the price doesn’t rise after 18 months.

If you’re in the market for a mobile plan as well, Virgin Media’s Volt M200, M350 and 500 packages bundle in a 10GB O2 SIM for an extra £6 per month.

Virgin Media Packages and Prices

M50 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM100 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM200 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM350 Broadband & Talk WeekendsM500 Broadband & Talk WeekendsGig1
Price per month (inc line rental£38£25£31£37£43£62
Upfront cost£35£35£35£35£35£35
Average speed54Mbits/sec108Mbits/sec213Mbits/sec362Mbits/sec516Mbits/sec1,130Mbits/sec
Usage allowanceUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Contract length18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months18 months

Compare the best Virgin deals in your area

Virgin Media review: Coverage

Coverage is arguably Virgin’s biggest issue, as you simply can’t get it in many areas of the UK. At the moment, services reach around 60% of UK homes, and not all of these can get the highest speeds. For instance, Gig1 only covers around half of Virgin Media’s national footprint, though that’s still nearly 7 million premises, with more upgrades planned across the next few years.

READ NEXT: BT Broadband review

Virgin Media review: Performance and customer satisfaction

Ofcom’s most recent performance figures don’t cover Gig1 or its 900Mbit/sec OpenReach alternatives, but speed tests for Virgin’s other fibre services look good. Its M350 services post higher speed results than BT’s 300Mbit/sec option, while M500 is faster still.

This explains why the Virgin Media customers we surveyed had few complaints in regards to speed. 37% are very satisfied with the speed of their connection, while a further 41% are satisfied, putting Virgin ahead of every other major ISP the survey covers. Only BT and Vodafone come close. Reliability is another strong point, with 70% of the ISP’s customers feeling satisfied there.

However, only 37% described themselves as satisfied with the provider’s customer service, while just 34% felt good about Virgin Media’s value for money. It’s now the worst ranked of the major UK ISPs on both counts.

Ofcom’s most recent customer service figures aren’t so disastrous, but Virgin still has more customers with a reason to complain than the average and more complaints per 100,000 subscribers. Its average call waiting time – seven minutes and 40 seconds – is comparatively through the roof. Virgin’s fast, but speeds aren’t everything.

Virgin Media review: Verdict

If you’re in an area where Virgin Media’s high-speed services are available, it’s still worth taking a good look. You can have your choice of high-performance connectivity and reliability is also very good. However, the prices are relatively expensive and get more so after eighteen months, while Virgin really needs to work on its customer service and support. Other providers can’t always compete on speed, but they’re pulling ahead in other areas that count just as much.

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