BT and Virgin Media are two of the UK's most popular broadband providers. But which should you go for?
BT Broadband vs Virgin Media: Which is faster?
In terms of broadband speeds, there really is no contest between Virgin Media and BT Broadband, though they are both behemoths of the Internet Service Provider (ISP) market.
Virgin use their own network of fibre cables to provide the fastest speeds available from any mainstream broadband provider; up to 516 Megabits per second (Mpbs) on its M500 deal. This package is available to a whopping 44% of UK properties currently and will increase to 53% in the next few years. By March 2021, they hope to provide these homes with speeds of up to 600 Mbps.
BT, like TalkTalk, Plusnet and Sky, uses the Openreach Network, which offers speeds of between 10Mbps and 67Mbps. Though evidently not as fast, BT is available to 99% of UK households, which is significantly more than Virgin.
Let’s compare the breakdown of speeds available from both ISPs.
BT broadband speeds:
- 10Mbps with its standard Broadband
- 36Mbps with its Superfast Fibre Essential
- 50Mbps with its Superfast Fibre (previously known as BT Infinity 1)
- 67Mbps for Superfast Fibre 2 (previously BT Infinity 2)
Virgin Media speeds:
- 54 Mbps
- 108 Mbps
- 213 Mbps
- 362 Mbps
- 516 Mbps
BT Broadband vs Virgin Media: Which is cheaper?
Price-wise, Virgin has the edge. Despite requiring £35 one-off costs for installation and setup and not always inclusive of line rental, a Virgin Media broadband deal will get you much more bang for your buck:
BT Fibre Essential: Average Speed 36Mbps + Unlimited Usage + PAYG Calls -- £26.99pm
BT Fibre 1: Average Speed 50Mbps + Unlimited Usage + PAYG calls -- £26.99pm
Virgin Media M100 Fibre (no phone line): Average speed 108Mbps + Unlimited usage = £24.99pm + £35 one off setup cost
Virgin Media M50 Fibre Broadband + Weekend Calls: Average Speed 54Mbps + unlimited usage + Inclusive Weekend Calls = £28pm + £35 one-off cost
It is worth noting, though, that these are all introductory offers, meaning the monthly cost rises after a few months.
BT TV vs Virgin Media TV: Which is better?
Both BT and Virgin Media are media mega giants, meaning they are able to offer competitive TV and entertainment packages along with high speed broadband.
BT uses the YouView set-top box to provide users with between 80 – 140 channels depending on which deal you choose. Their elite service, BT Max, allows you to access 143 channels, including Nickelodeon, Disney Junior and MTV; perfect for households with young children. With this package you’ll get upgraded to a YouView+ Ultra HD box, with capacity for 600 hours of recording space.
BT Sport 1 and 2, BT Sport Europe, and ESPN also provide coverage of major events such as the Premier League, Ashes and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The BT On Demand store also hosts a wide variety of films and TV shows at the click of a button and allows you to download Sky Cinema and Sky Sports. Check out this guide to find out more about BT TV deals.
Virgin Media’s TV service, however, gives you a huge selection of 245 channels via the V6 TiVo box, as well as access to Netflix, iPlayer and dozens of other On Demand services. This includes paid access to Sky Sports and BT Sports, excluding HD Sport. Find out more about Virgin Media TV deals here. It is hard to say which is better, as it depends what channels and services you prefer to use.
BT vs Virgin Media: Which is better for line rental?
Another advantage of Virgin Media deals is that you don’t need line rental in order to sign up. You can get Line Rental Only deals for as little as £19 should you need to, but these days its increasingly obsolete.
Because BT runs off the Openreach Network, you need line rental in order to purchase a deal. Luckily, this is always factored into the advertised cost. This does mean that BT offers more comprehensive phone-based deals, so if that’s something you need, then we’d suggest looking at BT instead of Virgin.
BT vs Virgin Media: Which provider has better bundle deals?
As always, it entirely depends on your needs. If you’re looking for an ISP with quicker broadband and more exciting entertainment options, then Virgin is the way to go for bundle deals. If you need something with more comprehensive phone capabilities as well as strong and reliable internet, then BT is your best bet.
BT vs Virgin Media: Which offers better customer service?
According to an extensive report in 2019 from market regulator Ofcom, Virgin Media boast 85% customer satisfaction, compared to 80% from BT.
BT has a relatively high rate of customers needing to raise issues to Ofcom about the service they receive; 79 per 100,000 subscribers lodged complaints, compared to 51 per 100,000 for Virgin Media. Based on this evidence, Virgin Media offer better customer service.
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Can I get BT broadband deals in my area?
BT uses the Openreach Network, which is available to around 99% of UK homes and businesses. That means you’re more than likely to be able to receive the most basic of BT’s packages already.
Some of the more extravagant fibre optic deals are not available everywhere though, because of infrastructure costs. Use our postcode checker to see what kind of BT broadband deals you can access in your area.
Can I get Virgin broadband deals in my area?
Virgin runs off its own separate fibre optic cable network. The estimated reach, based on Virgin’s own research, is around 75% - and mainly in urban areas. Again, if you’re unsure, use our postcode checker to find Virgin broadband deals available at your property.