Broadband Supplier In The Spotlight: Virgin Media

June 28th, 2022
Broadband Supplier In The Spotlight: Virgin Media

When it comes to choosing your broadband supplier, there are certainly no shortage of companies to compare. Perhaps one of the best-known names, Virgin Media was founded back in 2006, and now offers four services: broadband, mobile phone, home phone and TV.

Half A Century Of Virgin History

Virgin Media is one of a number of rather diverse companies, all of which share the Virgin brand name. Virgin itself has a long and interesting history, and is well known for having been founded by Richard Branson in 1970. Its roots lie in a mail order record business, and the first bricks and mortar Virgin Records shop opened just one year later. This was swiftly followed by a recording studio and record label, which went on to sign big names including the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson, and the Spice Girls. In the 1980s, the Virgin brand began to diversify and launched its gaming business, which went on to become Virgin Interactive. By 1984, Virgin had taken to the skies with its Virgin Atlantic flight service, and Virgin Holidays arrived a year later.

The 1990s saw Virgin branch into the competitive worlds of book publishing, and of radio. Virgin Radio became an international name, broadcasting in Thailand, India, Italy, France, Dubai and Canada, along with many more countries around the globe, with the latest additions being Oman and Switzerland in 2018. The mid-90s period was marked by the creation of Virgin Cola and Virgin Cinemas, with 1996 proving a very busy year for the brand, as it heralded the launch of the Virgin Trains service as well as the first V music festival.

Virgin Mobile launched in 1999 and was soon expanded around the world to offer services in Australia, the USA, China, France, Saudi Arabia and beyond. The start of the new millennium saw the advent of Virgin Money, and the popular Virgin Experience Days. By 2004, Virgin even had its own space travel division, with the introduction of Virgin Galactic. Virgin Media was launched in 2006, and has now become a leading provider of internet services in the UK.

Virgin Media has a considerable market share, with almost 14 million homes using its broadband services, 3.1 million mobile telephone users, almost 6 million cable customers, and 45 thousand business customers [1]. This means that Virgin Media held 24% of the market share of UK internet services in 2021 [2], meaning that they are one of the country’s Big Three in this service area, together with BT and Sky.

Virgin Media’s broadband service is not a BTTP (Broadband To The Premises) service, but instead uses BTTC (Broadband To The Cabinet) connectivity. This means that the fibre optic cable network used to deliver its internet is connected only as far as a local street-based cable cabinet, rather than right into its customer’s homes or business premises. This may be a distance of a few hundred feet, and means, in practical terms, that customers paying for Virgin Broadband will not currently be able to access the very fastest internet download speeds available.

However, Virgin Media is undertaking an improvement project to upgrade its fibre optic cable network, and is beginning to roll out ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 1140Mbps – that’s more than 1 Gbps. These new ultrafast broadband internet speeds were first introduced in Southampton in 2019, and have since been extended to many more cities and their surrounding areas, including Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Virgin Media also offer a Mobile Broadband service, which is a good option for those who are unable to access a fibre optic cable connection. This Mobile Broadband is delivered by 3G, 4G and 5G technology, and therefore makes use of mobile telephone networks.

Virgin Media Broadband Speeds

Internet broadband download speeds are broken down into five categories: Basic (up to 25Mbps), Average (up to 100Mbps), Fast (up to 200Mbps), Very Fast (up to 500Mbps), and Ultrafast or Gigabit (up to and above 1000Mbps). Virgin Media offers different internet download speeds, ranging from its M50 package (which guarantees a minimum download speed of 27Mbps and averages 54Mbps), up to its Gig1 package (which guarantees a minimum download speed of 565Mbps and averages 1130Mbps.) There are seven broadband speed options available from Virgin Media in total, and choosing the right speed for your household will depend on a number of factors.

Most households will be able to successfully carry out all of their typical activities which require a broadband connection, with a broadband download speed of 100 to 200Mbps. This speed range should easily accommodate live streaming, internet browsing, and video chat for up to five users at once. However, if you have a large household, work or study from home, or if you enjoy online gaming, then you may well wish to increase your broadband speed. Online video gaming, for example, will be a greatly improved experience when a higher download speed is available, as this will reduce the effect of latency (the lapse of time between pressing a button and seeing its result.) On the lower end of the speed scale, basic and average broadband speeds will likely only support 1 to 3 users at a time.

To learn how to check Virgin Media broadband speed for your location, simply visit their website and check the availability for your area. Their checker tool requires a couple of details, such as your address and telephone number. This should offer an insight into the speeds that you could expect to access from their service. If you wish to compare the average Virgin Media broadband speeds to your own service, you can also click on their free speed checker tool. This will rapidly measure the upload and download speed for your current broadband connection.

A Wide Range Of Deals

There is a broad range of Virgin Media broadband deals, which means that most prospective customers should be able to find a plan or package which is suitable for their needs.

One of the benefits – and key selling points – of Virgin Media’s service, is the chance to combine its broadband provision with its other products, namely its mobile telephone, home telephone, and TV services. Opting to combine these different utilities into a single package can be more convenient, as you only have one bill to pay for all of these services, as well as working out as better value than paying for each of them separately.

However, be sure to only pay for a bundle if you are likely to use all of the services included.

Virgin Media offer many different bundles, which vary in price according to factors such as broadband download speed, and what is included in the package. The cheapest option combines basic broadband (M50) with a landline telephone service, and includes free weekend calls. Most expensive packages include TV services, with bundles specialising in Movies, Drama and Entertainment channels, and bundles with mobile telephone SIM cards included. Virgin Media also run regular promotions that cut the price of certain packages for the first few months, so it is well worth waiting and checking back if you want to get an even better deal.

Project Lightning

Part of Virgin Media’s commitment to offering a great service to their customers (as well as helping to ensure that their service continues to be fit for purpose as we move into the future), Project Lightning was announced back in 2020. The goal of Project Lightning is to extend Virgin Media’s fibre optic broadband network, enabling it to reach four million more homes and workplaces by 2025: an increase of approximately a third.

The project also aims to both create thousands more jobs, including roles in sales and engineering, as well as many new opportunities for apprenticeships on Virgin Media’s award winning scheme. It is also expected to help to boost the UK economy to the value of around £8 billion [2]. With Virgin Media spending £3 billion on the initiative, the project represents the largest fiscal investment in the country’s broadband infrastructure network for over ten years. Virgin Media’s delivery of Project Lightning is being supported by its parent company, Liberty Global PLC, and is expected to lead to its customers being able to access broadband speeds of 152 Mbps.

A Commitment To Making A Difference

Virgin Media is also proving itself to have a great commitment to sustainability initiatives, which is very positive news for customers who value brands that demonstrate an awareness of environmental issues. Since 2014, the company has successfully reduced its operational carbon footprint by 46%, and refurbished or reused more than 8 million devices [4], thereby saving them from ending up in landfill and sparing more natural resources from being used to make new ones. Virgin Media also recycles 80% of its operational waste. Thanks to its eco-friendly measures, the company now uses less electricity than at any point in the last 6 years, and has reduced its use of paper by 88%.

During the Covid pandemic, the company also stepped up to support UK communities who were finding themselves in unprecedented circumstances. Virgin Media set up its Belonging campaign which saw the company providing extra data and minutes to customers, along with funding for devices that could facilitate home learning, and introducing an Essential broadband package for people on Universal Credit. Belonging also focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and has seen employee networks set up to amplify the voices of those in under-represented groups such as ethnic minorities, LGBT+, and the disabled.

The Belonging initiative formed part of its collaboration with disability charity Scope. This partnership also saw Virgin Media provide support for more than a million disabled people, helping them to develop the skills and confidence they needed in order to find and remain in work, based on its Support To Work digital employment service.

Future Plans

Looking ahead through to 2025, Virgin Media will be committed to its Meaningful Connections Plan, a new sustainability and social strategy that aims to see the business become carbon neutral and zero waste by the end of this period. Partnering with the charity Carers UK, it also plans to support those who care for others in an unpaid capacity, by providing connections to communities as well as to one another.

The company will also be encouraging its employees to increase their own personal involvement in community and socially beneficial work, by increasing the number of annual paid volunteering days from one to five. When multiplied across the whole of the Virgin Media workforce (around 12,000 employees), this means an increase to approximately 450,000 hours worth of charitable volunteer work to be carried out by its staff each year.

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