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Virgin Media Internet Reliability Reviewed

Rating
3.5 / 5

Verdict
Virgin is a good broadband choice for customers who need an alternative to phone line broadband and are willing to pay a little extra to get it. While typically £5–15 above the monthly cost of basic broadband, the speed and reliability is worth it for homes with multiple people or home offices.

 
Reviewed by
Thomas Buck

Virgin Media is reliable in terms of speed delivered (ranked #1 in the UK) and network security (they are one of the only companies with a fully owned and operated network).

Building and operating their own network allows Virgin to provide faster and more flexible service than companies that rely on network providers like Openreach (BT) or CityFIbre (Vodafone).

As a result, Virgin is favoured by customers who want fast speeds combined with robust security and parental controls.

The drawback is that the Virgin network is largely built on coaxial cables. These are much faster than phone lines; but they are subject to slowdowns during peak use times such as the evening. As a result, the speeds delivered by Virgin may be less predictable compared with the phone line.

Virgin also charges an extra £3/month for their security suite; something we haven’t seen with any other broadband companies reviewed.

Virgin Media broadband Pros and Cons


Pros

  • Top-ranked for speed test results in the UK.
  • Robust security and parental control options.

Cons

  • £5–15 higher monthly cost than basic phone line broadband.
  • Full security suite costs an extra £3 per month.

Virgin Media internet speeds

Virgin Media is a strong choice for customers who value speed above all else. The provider consistently ranks #1 in UK speed test leaderboards, and outperforms the UK average broadband speed dramatically.

As you can see in this chart, over 60% of Virgin Media consumer speed tests record downloads above 80 Mbps.

The UK average, on the other hand, is barely 25%.

Speed test chart for Virgin.

Virgin Media consistently outperforms the UK averages for broadband speed.

Virgin benefits from one big differentiating factor: their network is entirely private. It does not touch the public phone line system at any point, unlike the vast majority of other ISPs.

This means that while BT has to share the underlying Openreach infrastructure with dozens of other providers like Plusnet, Shell Energy, and Vodafone, Virgin is able to keep their lines dedicated to their own traffic. This matters mostly because it means they aren’t subject to another company for issues related to upgrades, service installs, and maintenance.

On the other hand, Virgin’s popularity in their service area has driven consistent consumer complaints about peak use slowdowns. This means that when more people are online in the evening and streaming video content, you’re likely to see service slowdowns.

This has been so much a problem for the company historically that they’re one of the only telecom companies to have executives on the record denouncing Net Neutrality standards. However, the company’s current CEO seems to be keeping their policies more in line with the UK norms in terms of traffic treatment.

Virgin Media Wi-Fi router performance

Virgin Media offers a free Wi-Fi router called the Hub 3 with all their broadband plans. The only plan with a different model is the high-end Gig plan, which has a dedicated model called the Hub 4.

While the Hub 4 is available as an upgrade for all plans, most users are more than served by the features offered on the Hub 3.

Router modelAntennaeDual bandDefault plans
Hub 333.4, 5All plans except gig
Hub 4113.4, 5Gigabit plan

Virgin Media security & parental controls

When it comes to security, Virgin has a good front-end customer experience with robust parental control options.

However, prospective customers should be aware that they had a recent data breach incident in 2020. While relatively minor as breaches go, it’s a sign that the company isn’t infallible, and you still have to be cautious rather than fully relying on their security suite.

Virgin Media user privacy

Virgin’s privacy policy doesn’t rule out selling anonymized data to third parties; it does state that data may be used for producing statistical reports.

Overall, Virgin’s privacy policy gives them more leeway compared with BT. They company is subject to less regulatory oversight than providers on Openreach, and therefore users should consider whether they have more trust in the government or a private company when making their choices around which ISP handles their data.

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